Hundreds feared dead in rural Mexican landslide

Governor says that following hillside collapse, 300 houses and 1,000 people could be buried under ground.

Mexico bad weather (photo credit: Associated Press)
Mexico bad weather
(photo credit: Associated Press)
OAXACA, Mexico — A hillside collapsed on a rural Mexican community on Tuesday and the region's governor said hundreds of people are feared dead.
Oaxaca state Gov. Ulises Ruiz told the Televisa television network that the early morning landslide in the town Santa Maria de Tlahuitoltepec buried 100 to 300 houses and speculated that 500 to 1,000 people could be buried.
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Donato Vargas, an official in Santa Maria de Tlahuitoltepec reached by a satellite telephone, said 500 people were missing and that 300 homes were buried.
"We were all sleeping and all I heard was a loud noise and when I left the house I saw that the hill had fallen," Vargas said.
He said he called the Mexican army and state officials for help.
"It has been difficult informing authorities because the road are very bad and there isn't a good signal for our phone," Vargas said shortly before the call dropped.
Ruiz said the landslide followed days of rain in the Sierra de Juarez region.
Rescuers were flying in from Mexico City and emergency personnel have been sent to the town about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Oaxaca city and 130 miles (220 kilometers) from Mexico City.
"There has been lots of rain, rivers have overflowed and we're having a hard time reaching the area because there are landslides on the roads," he said.
Luis Marin, an official with Oaxaca state's civil protection department, said rescue crews had yet to reach the area.
The federal Interior Department issued a statement that rescue workers from the army, navy and federal police were being flown to the area with rescue dogs and heavy machinery.
The landslide in Oaxaca follows weeks of heavy rains that have caused havoc in southern Mexico and Central America.
Huge swaths of riverside communities in southern Mexico were still under water Tuesday — flooding exacerbated by the passage of Hurricane Karl and Tropical Storm Matthew. At least 15 deaths in Mexico were blamed on the hurricane.
In Honduras, authorities said four people, including a child, drowned in rivers and creeks swollen by Tropical Storm Matthew.
The National Emergencies Commission said Tuesday that three adults died in the town of El Oregano and a 10-year-old child in the Caribbean coast town of La Lima.