Guatemalan search brigades have pulled the first bodies from a huge rain-fuelled landslide where at least 150 people are believed to be entombed.
Governments worked to tally the displaced and dead, and recover bodies from landslides and flooding caused by Eta, now a tropical depression, that claimed dozens of lives from Mexico to Panama.
In southern Mexico, across the border from Guatemala, 19 people died as heavy rains attributed to Eta caused mudslides and swelled streams and rivers, according to Chiapas state civil defence official Elias Morales Rodriguez.
The worst incident occurred in the mountain township of Chenalho, where 10 people were swept away by a rain-swollen stream; their bodies were later found downstream. Mexico’s National Meteorological Service said Eta’s “broad circulation is causing intense to torrential rains on the Yucatan peninsula and in southeastern Mexico.”
In Guatemala, the first army brigade reached a massive landslide Friday morning in the central mountains where an estimated 150 homes were buried Thursday. They recovered three bodies, according to an army spokesman. In a news conference, President Alejandro Giammattei said he believed there were at least 100 dead there in San Cristobal Verapaz, but noted that was still unconfirmed.
“The panorama is complicated in that area,” he said, noting rescuers were struggling to access the site.
Tropical Depression Eta was centred 115 miles (180 kilometres) east of Belize City. It was moving northeast at 7 mph (11 kph) and had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph).
Hurricane Eta’s arrival Tuesday afternoon in northeast Nicaragua followed days of drenching rain as it crawled toward shore. Its slow, meandering path north through Honduras pushed rivers over their banks and pouring into neighbourhoods where families were forced onto rooftops to wait for rescue.
Wendi Munguia Figueroa, 48, and nine relatives huddled Friday morning on the corrugated metal roof of her home in Honduras surrounded by brown floodwaters, but with little drinking water remaining.
“We can’t get off our houses’ roofs because the water is up to our necks in the street,” Munguia said. She managed about two hours of sleep Thursday night between the intermittent rain and damp chill.
Munguia had yet to see any rescue boats or any authorities. Her neighbours likewise occupied their roofs.