2 Bodies Recovered from Sinkhole in Guatemala

March 2, 2007

GUATEMALA CITY – Rescue workers recovered the bodies of two adolescents brothers Feb. 28 from a massive sinkhole that opened up in the Guatemala City neighborhood of San Antonio, according to the fire department. The boys’ father remained missing and is feared dead.

Authorities evacuated the residents of some 300 San Antonio households in the face of continuing tremors, army officer Daniel Domínguez said.

Soldiers and emergency rescue personnel led the evacuees to shelters set up in neighboring sections of the Guatemalan capital, he said.

Hugo Hernández, head of Guatemala’s emergency management agency, said that saturation of the drainage system on the north side of the city was the cause of the sinkhole, which swallowed a score of houses.

He said the collapse of the drainage system “resulted in the ground loosening little by little, until the sinking occurred” the night of Feb. 27.

Amid the panic caused by the collapse, rescue workers and residents of the working-class neighborhood had said that more than a dozen people could be missing.

The capital’s mayor, Alvaro Arzu, told reporters that teams from the municipal water and sewer company have begun repairing the drainage system and offering help to area residents.

Meanwhile, officials with the state-run Housing Fund have already begun making a record of the people affected with the goal of providing housing solutions. Authorities said that electricity, potable water and telephone services, which had been suspended in the affected area due to the sinkhole, will be re-established shortly.

The sinkhole left an immense gash more than 20 meters wide, 150 meters long and some 150 meters deep.

Some local residents said that for the past three weeks they have heard sporadic strange noises apparently from shifting earth and that the rumbling was accompanied by a release of fetid odors.

 

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