Guatemala City – The death toll from days of torrential rains from a tropical depression stands at 22 and could rise as rescuers dig through tons of mud that buried a road in the western part of the country, Guatemalan authorities said Friday.
The confirmed fatalities include eight children, the Conred emergency management agency said.
Flooding and mudslides have forced more than 3,000 people to seek refuge in government shelters, Conred said.
In the western town of Nahuala, police and soldiers have joined fire rescue personnel in a search for more possible victims from a mudslide that covered a stretch of road.
"So far we have found only one vehicle at the bottom of a ravine, which would have been swept up by the landslide, but there are no signs of survivors," a fire rescue spokesperson said.
Though the tropical depression that spurred this week's downpours is weakening, normal seasonal rains persist across Guatemala and the next 48 hours could bring more flooding and landslides, government forecaster Eddy Sanchez told the media.
Ten bridges have sustained structural damage and more than half-a-dozen highways are shut down, effectively isolating the provinces of Quetzaltenango and Quiche from the rest of the country.