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Six dead, 12 missing in Guatemala landslides

At least six people are dead and 12 others missing after a swollen river swept away homes in Guatemala’s capital city.

Early on Monday, waters from the Naranjo River rushed through a shantytown in Guatemala City called Dios es Fiel, or God is Faithful, destroying at least six homes that had been perched under a bridge, according to Guatemala’s National Coordination for Disaster Reduction agency (CONRED).

Search dogs and recovery teams discovered the bodies of six people who died in the flood waters, including that of a young girl, believed to be about five years old.

She was found partially buried in the mud that rushed through the area.

An estimated eight children were among the 12 still missing.Residents told AFP they had no choice but to live in the precarious location.

Tens of thousands of Guatemalans live in similar shantytowns.

“We knew the risk, [but] we are here out of necessity,” said Marvin Cabrera, 36, a food delivery worker who lived in the area struck by the rising waters.

Guatemala has a 59-percent poverty rate. It also has a housing deficit of about 2 million units, according to the Guatemalan Chamber of Construction and the ANACOVI builders’ association.

Experts say the lack of housing for low-income residents contributes to the construction of informal settlements, often in locations prone to natural disasters.

Heavy rains triggered the high waters, which pushed flows of stones, soil and waste through the settlement.

“The river … took homes, neighbours’ belongings. Neighbours disappeared,” resident Esau Gonzalez, 42, told the AFP news agency.

– aljazeera