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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 October 2005, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Guatemala Mayan town under threat

Guatemalan officials and the Red Cross have called for a Mayan town devastated by Tropical Storm Stan to be evacuated amid fears of further mudslides.

Hundreds of corpses are still trapped beneath the avalanche of sludge and rock in Panabaj, near the tourist resort of Lake Atitlan.

Relief workers are also seriously worried about the threat of hunger and outbreaks of infectious diseases.

The search for survivors was halted on Tuesday after it was deemed too risky.

The authorities are turning to reconstruction, including relocating entire villages.

The official death toll in Guatemala stands at 652, but more than 1,000 people are believed to have died.

Another 131 people are known to have died elsewhere in Central America and Mexico as a result of the storm.

Stan slammed ashore as a hurricane in southern Mexico, but it lost force as it struck Central America. Most of the damage has been done by torrential rains lasting days on end.

'High danger'

Panabaj was completely buried, and the 1,400 people missing there were declared dead after the search was called off. The nearby town of Tzanchaj was similarly devastated.

KNOWN DEATH TOLL
Guatemala - 652
El Salvador - 72
Mexico - 42
Nicaragua - 11
Honduras - 4
Costa Rica - 2

A battered sheet of corrugated iron has been placed across the swathe of mud that was once the main road into Panabaj. The words "area of high danger - do not enter" are sprayed in red.

But the BBC's Claire Marshall, in Guatemala, says that many local men, along with women dressed in the colourful embroidered shirts of the native Mayan Indians, walk past the sign into the remains of their village.

She says they want to retrieve their possessions and to try to find the remains of their loved ones.

Tens of thousands of Mayan Indians have been given provisional shelter away from the disaster area near Lake Atitlan.

Images from Guatemala and Mexico as they struggle to cope with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Stan

Relief workers said they were concerned about them. Food is short because of damage to crops, while water and fuel supplies cannot get through because roads remain cut off.

Some evacuees are now camping out because of miserable conditions in the shelters.

As in the Mayan towns, the threat of hunger and disease looms elsewhere in Guatemala.

President Oscar Berger has said 130,000 people have been directly affected by the storm. More than 90,000 are living in government shelters.

Unicef has estimated that more than a third of the victims were children and has reorganised its aid programmes to help them.

Map of Central America and southern Mexico




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