Monday, July 28, 2008

Guatemala: tragedy of a trash avalanche...

At least three people have died and at least 10 others are missing after a mountain of rubbish near the Guatemalan capital collapsed on them, emergency workers have said.

The rubbish pile, which contained broken glass, tyres and human remains, disintegrated on Friday while people were foraging at the dump, the emergency services said.

Hundreds of police and bystanders are searching for those missing after the incident near Guatemala City, Jose Victor Chavez, one of the rescue workers, said.

Dozens of people search the rubbish tip every day to take jewellery from bodies dumped there when their relatives cannot afford to pay for the upkeep of their graves, Chavez said.

At least six children searching for valuables in the dump are among the missing, he said.

A police spokesman put the death toll at four and said 14 people had disappeared.

Scores of poor people forage for scrap metal and other recyclables despite dangers of landslides during seasonal rainfall.

"Yesterday it rained all afternoon and into the night, saturating the land and causing the landslide," Gerson Contreras, a police spokesman, said.

"Because of the rains and what happened before, the authorities have been trying to stop people from going there, but their need is so great they just kept coming," Contreras said.

Last month, eight people were killed in a similar collapse at Guatemala City's main rubbish dump, located to the south of the capital.


See also: Naples: Why the Mafia loves garbage...

And this: When the State starts to snoop into your rubbish...

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