ACALANA, Mexico (AP) _ A massive wall of mud broke away from a mountainside and covered this village of at least 150 people. Only 30 were able to escape, area residents said Monday.
Soldiers digging in the huge flank of mud found seven bodies Sunday before they were forced to flee because more mud began to fall from the mountainside, the residents said. All other residents of the village were missing and presumed dead after the slide Thursday.
It was unclear how many people actually lived in Acalana, since the survivors all fled to another area. But local residents estimated 150 to 200 people lived in the village.
If the reports are confirmed, this could be the single deadliest tragedy of a week of flooding and mudslides across southeastern Mexico.
The official death toll rose to 344 nationwide on Monday, but those included only bodies certified as dead by judicial authorities. The true toll is certainly much greater; Mexican newspapers, basing their numbers on witness accounts, give the death toll as high as 600.
Acalana is a small farming village 90 miles northeast of Mexico City. Residents had clear-cut the surrounding forests and planted corn on top of the 500-foot hill. Their houses were on the side of the highway beneath the mountain.