Guatemala ends search for landslide missing with toll at 280

Soldiers block the affected area in Santa Catarina Pinula, on the outskirts of Guatemala City, Oct 11, 2015.
Soldiers block the affected area in Santa Catarina Pinula, on the outskirts of Guatemala City, Oct 11, 2015.REUTERS

GUATEMALA CITY (AFP) - Guatemala called off a search on Tuesday for dozens of people still missing in a landslide that killed at least 280 people, authorities said.

Around 70 people are unaccounted for, believed to be buried in the mud and rubble that wiped out a neighbourhood in Santa Catarina Pinula, just outside of Guatemala City, on Oct 1.

"We've unanimously agreed to suspend the search and recovery efforts," Alejandro Maldonado, head of the country's disaster coordination agency Conred, told reporters.

The agency said 184 homes were damaged, with 73 of them seriously.

The government has announced plans to build a housing project nearby to relocate families displaced by the disaster, which left nearly 500 people living in temporary shelters.

Maldonado said municipal authorities will decide whether to declare the area destroyed by the landslide a cemetery.