Scores Missing After Landslide In Southern Mexico

At least seven people have been killed and 100 are missing after an overnight landslide in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, officials have said. Heavy rain saturated a 200m (656ft) wide strip of mountainside above the town of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, causing it to slip at 0400 (0900 GMT). Oaxaca's governor earlier said between 100 and 300 homes had been buried, with as many as 600 people sleeping inside. Rescue teams have struggled to reach the area because the roads are cut off."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," Oaxaca state governor Ulises Ruiz told the Televisa network. He said local telephone lines had been cut off. Mr Ruiz added that municipal authorities had told him by satellite phone that the landslide had buried 100 to 300 houses, and speculated that 500 to 600 people could have been asleep inside at the time. "They're talking about up to 1,000 people," he said. A preliminary report by the civil protection authorities later said there were so far only seven confirmed deaths. The secretary of the communal property commissariat in Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, Donato Vargas, said the town of 9,000 had been plunged into a state of confusion. "We were all sleeping and all I heard was a loud noise. When I left the house, I saw that the hill had fallen," he told the Associated Press. Residents were already searching the area for survivors, he added.Oaxaca's governor said it would not be possible to get a more accurate assessment of the devastation until the first rescuers reached the scene."We hope to arrive in time to rescue the families who were buried." Paramedics, police, soldiers and marines from at least four states have been mobilised, and many are being flown to the area with rescue dogs and heavy machinery, Red Cross officials said. Specialists in rescuing people from collapsed buildings are also being sent.