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Death toll rises as Guatemala landslide rescuers find more bodies

Workers in Guatemala are continuing to search through rubble and debris for survivors of a landslide on the outskirts of the capital. Hundreds are still missing.

Workers used diggers and shovels to search through

tons of dirt

that buried more than 100 homes in a neighborhood in Santa Catarina Pinula, Guatemala City,

on Thursday night

.

Figures vary but at least 69 people are understood to have died in the landslide, which happened when a hill partially collapsed, burying some homes under 50 feet (15 meters) of earth.

Hope is fading for the hundreds of people that are still missing. Sergio Cabanas, a senior official at disaster agency Conred, told reporters he doubted more survivors would be found.

"But we have enough hope to keep looking, even if just one more person gets out alive," he said.

Cabanas said he'd been contacted by several people who reported receiving messages from their trapped relatives under the rubble. He asked local telephone companies to map out the places from where the messages were being sent.

Around 1,800 soldiers, firemen and other volunteers are helping with rescue efforts.

The dead are being brought to an improvised morgue where relatives have been identifying bodies.

The tragedy has hit Guatemala after weeks of political turmoil, and as it prepares to elect a new president.

jr/cmk (AP, Reuters)

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