Search for survivors in Estado de Mexico hill stopped by fears of more landslides

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First responders conduct a rescue for survivors amid a three-story pile of rocks in Tlalnepantla, on the outskirts of Mexico City, when a mountain gave way on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, plunging rocks the size of small homes onto a densely populated neighborhood. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

TLALNEPANTLA, Estado de Mexico (September 13, 2021) — Fears of new landslides slowed the search Saturday for more victims from the collapse of a hillside that brought tons of boulders down on a neighborhood outside Mexico City, killing at least one person.

Authorities in Tlalnepantla, the municipality in Mexico state where the disaster took place Friday, reduced the number of missing people from 10 to three Saturday after seven of the missing were located, said Ricardo de la Cruz, undersecretary general of Mexico state.

A day after the collapse, armed forces dogs continued to search the rubble for victims but officials focused their efforts on evacuating at least 80 homes in the area and stabilizing the land to allow heavy machinery onto the scene.

Boulders that plunged from a mountainside rests among homes in Tlalnepantla, on the outskirts of Mexico City, when a mountain gave way on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. A section of mountain on the outskirts of Mexico City gave way Friday, plunging rocks the size of small homes onto a densely populated neighborhood and leaving at least one person dead and 10 others missing. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

“You can still see cracks” in the hillside, De la Cruz said. “Our engineers mark and do laser measurements and there has been additional movement on the slope.”

Experts estimate that the largest boulder set loose by the collapse on Chiquihuite hill could weigh about 200 tons and is embedded in one of the houses, De la Cruz said.

Besides the size of the boulders and fears of more landslides, the search is also being slowed by the neighborhood’s narrow, steep paths which are largely inaccessible to heavy machinery.

Friday’s landslide in Tlalnepantla followed days of heavy rain in central Mexico and a 7.0-magnitude earthquake Tuesday in Acapulco that swayed buildings 200 miles away in the capital. Mexico state Gov. Alfredo del Mazo said Friday night that both factors likely contributed to the slide.

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