Silence amid the tragedy


Cambray landslide

Just an hour before midnight on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, a landslide took place in Guatemala City suburb of Santa Catarina Pinula, burying the urban settlement El Cambray II

CONRED, Guatemala’s emergency disaster agency, activated its national emergency operations early the next morning. Four days later the death toll stood at 161. At this point CONRED reports there is still between 400 and 500 people missing, based on estimated 125 homes in the area.

Search and rescue efforts continue with the aid of specialized rescue teams from Mexico and heavy machinery. Local experts conduct assessments to determine the susceptibility of landslides in neighboring areas, and to identify ways to stabilize the ground.

Almost two weeks later, on Oct. 13, Guatemala’s National Disaster Reduction Commission suspends the rescue efforts. Guatemala officials said 386 people survived the massive landslide that killed 280 people, with another 70 missing. A criminal investigation has been established to clarify the circumstances causing the landslide.

These portraits were taken outside the morgue as grieving crowds gathered to wait for forensic investigators to identify the remains of the mudslide victims. Workers and volunteers from a range of organizations including the Red Cross and volunteer firefighters are represented in this series of portraits. Those who agreed to be photographer are wearing masks due to the smell of rotting bodies, and as prevention from infection.

This is a tribute to all who, in one way or another, helped during this tragedy