Mexico Landslide May Have Killed as Many as 1,000

An early morning landslide in southern Mexican killed at least seven people and left 100 missing, Oaxaca state Governor Ulises Ruiz said.

Severe rains caused a hillside to collapse at about 4 a.m. local time, burying homes in the town of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec as residents slept, Ruiz said, citing information from local authorities, news agency AFP reported.

Rescuers from the military are beginning to arrive in the rural town, at least three hours by car from the state capital. Access has been difficult because many roads are blocked by mud, Ruiz said earlier today in an interview on the Televisa network.

“We’re sending machinery, army personnel, police, ambulances and rescue workers,” Ruiz said.

Tropical Storm Matthew caused heavy flooding in much of Oaxaca last week, and Mexico is in the midst of its rainy season. The Oaxaca landslides come days after Hurricane Karl forced some 16,000 people to evacuate their homes in Veracruz state, about 280 miles (450 kilometers) north of Oaxaca on Mexico’s Gulf coast. A landslide also killed at least five people in the state of Mexico on Sept. 20.

Most of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec’s 9,000 residents are from indigenous ethnic groups, and the majority make their living from agriculture, according to the national statistics agency and the state government.

Rescue Efforts

The Mexican Red Cross is sending 40 health specialists to Oaxaca to assist in the rescue, spokesman Rafael Gonzalez said. The organization is also sending rescue dogs and 15 emergency vehicles, he said in a phone interview from Mexico City.

About 300 houses may have been hit by the mudslide, representing 10 percent of the dwellings in the town, said Carlos Ramos Aragon, director of the state civil protection agency, speaking in a telephone interview from Oaxaca.

Ramos Aragon said “some” military personnel had reached the area. He spoke at 1 p.m. New York time on his way to the affected town.

The Defense Ministry’s press office said it didn’t have any additional information on the rescue efforts.

In Colombia, as many as 30 people were trapped after heavy rains caused a landslide on a road near Medellin, Caracol Radio reported today.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jens Erik Gould at jgould9@bloomberg.net; Adriana Lopez Caraveo in Mexico City at adrianalopez@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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