Death toll reduced in Mexico landslide
OAXACA, Mexico – A huge mudslide first thought to have buried hundreds of people has left only 11 missing and there are no confirmed dead, authorities said last night, backing off earlier predictions of a catastrophe in Mexico’s rain-soaked southern state of Oaxaca.
Federal Interior Minister Francisco Blake and Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz both confirmed the drastically reduced toll from the slide that hit the town of Santa Maria de Tlahuitoltepec early yesterday.
“So far no one is confirmed dead, only 11 missing who we hope … will be found,” Ruiz told The Associated Press.
Initial reports from Santa Maria de Tlahuitoltepec, a rural mountain town 373 miles (600 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City, said a hillside collapsed on hundreds of sleeping residents after several days of heavy rains in the aftermath of a hurricane and tropical storm that hit Mexico and Central America.
Civil protection authorities first reported seven people killed and at least 100 missing, but Ruiz later reported casualties as four dead and 12 missing.
Jose Alfredo Garcia, spokesman for the Interior Department, told the AP that the initial reports were based on the number of homes hit by the mudslide, but at the time no federal or state officials had reached the site to check the estimates.
Communications with the town were difficult after the pre-dawn slide. Soldiers and civil protection and Red Cross workers couldn’t reach the area for nearly 10 hours because mud and rocks blocked roads and a bridge was damaged, while bad weather prevented helicopters from being used. (AP)