When a mountain of mud and a wall of water buried a Mexican village in a "mini-tsunami," only 14 of the 600 people there disappeared. One reason? Jittery cattle...
OSTUACAN, Mexico — When a mountain of mud and a wall of water buried a Mexican village in a “mini-tsunami,” only 14 of the 600 people there disappeared.
One reason? Jittery cattle.
The villagers’ nervous animals somehow sensed the impending disaster and fled to higher ground. Many people got out of bed to chase after them, then watched as their homes were engulfed when a rain-soaked hill collapsed, a senior official said Tuesday.
Two deaths were confirmed Tuesday as rescuers dived through a murky river and dug among mountains of earth in search of victims, two days after the landslide crashed down on the tiny hamlet of San Juan Grijalva in Mexico’s southernmost state, Chiapas.
Most Read Nation & World Stories
- Mass. COVID-19 outbreak mostly infected the vaccinated, CDC finds; few needed hospitalization
- Forced to play in 'panties,' the Norwegian beach handball team decided they'd had enough
- 'Botched': Arizona GOP's ballot count ends, troubles persist
- Sports on TV & radio: Local listings for Seattle games and events
- Bacon may become scarce in California as pig rules take effect
That left 12 to 14 people still missing. Chiapas Civil Protection official Alfredo Chan said authorities would also search nearby towns to see if victims had sought refuge there.
The landslide in San Juan Grijalva, about 45 miles southwest of Villahermosa, added to woes caused by widespread flooding and heavy rains across Mexico and Central America. In Honduras, authorities evacuated dozens of people on the Atlantic coast and at least two people drowned in floodwaters, including a 2-year-old boy swept away by a raging river.
Officials said that about 80 percent of Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Tabasco was underwater at one point and the homes of some 500,000 people had been damaged or destroyed.
Tens of thousands of people were still huddled in makeshift shelters, on rooftops and in the second floors of homes Tuesday as authorities patrolled flooded streets in boats looking for looters. Small-boat owners ferried residents to their houses to salvage medications and other belongings.
Officials said river levels were continuing to drop in the state capital of Villahermosa, but Navy Secretary Mariano Francisco Saynez told Televisa it would take about three months for life to return to normal.
People who lost everything waited in long lines for aid and many took care to avoid strolling in waist-deep waters infested with poisonous snakes and occasionally larger reptiles.
“Some crocodiles have shown up after leaving their lagoons,” Saynez said Tuesday.
Residents of San Juan Grijalva said they were awakened Sunday night by a loud rumbling as mud and rocks rolled down from surrounding hilltops.
“It was a roar, like a helicopter was passing overhead,” farmer Domingo Sanchez said. “We didn’t know what was happening, and then we went outside, and there were cracks opening the earth. We ran up the hill … but soil kept coming down on us.”
Sanchez, his mother, wife and cousin fought for their lives in a valley where the only salvation was in getting to higher ground as the ground collapsed around them. They reached the hilltop in time to look across the valley and see a landslide cover the home of Sanchez’s grandparents. He thinks at least nine relatives were buried.
When the hillside collapsed into the Grijalva River, it also created at least one enormous wave of water that swept over dozens of homes.