Mourning villagers prepared to bury their dead in Guatemala's highlands and flood waters blocked rescue efforts across Central America on Thursday after Hurricane Stan's torrential rains killed at least 167 people.
As bodies were pulled from the mud, emergency teams battled to reach remote villages where hillsides collapsed under torrential rains, trapping peasant farmers and tourists, the Reuters reports. Thousands of evacuees from urban shantytowns hunkered down in emergency shelters as rain pounded the region, but elsewhere survivors returned home to recover their dead and prepare them for burial.
Six corpses were laid out on the floor and surrounded by mourning townspeople in traditional indigenous dress. Garcia saved his daughter from two mudslides that engulfed more than 30 homes in their nearby hamlet on Wednesday, but his granddaughter was killed and three other family members were still missing.
Officials feared finding some of the worst damage -- and possibly many more dead -- around the volcano-ringed Lake Atitlan, a popular tourist spot. An unknown number of foreigners were trapped at the lakeside resort of Panajachel.
Few rescue workers had been able to reach the area, however, and communication was still cut off. Guatemala confirmed 79 deaths and said the toll would surely rise. There were at least 65 dead in El Salvador, 10 in both Nicaragua and Mexico and three in Honduras.