In shocking news this week, heavy rains caused a mudslide in the northern Guatemalan town of Santa Cruz Barillas. Four homes were buried and the ASOBAGRI coffee coop offices and warehouse, which Lloyd and I visited in 2010, were destroyed.
Rain and unstable terrain prevented rescue teams from reaching the landslide on foot and crews removed dirt with heavy machinery.
Two brothers and a sister, aged between four and seven, died when mud buried their home. The children’s mother and their three-month old brother survived. Late this week, rescuers uncovered the remaining bodies of twelve others, all confirmed dead.
The landslide, measuring 250 meters long and 200 meters high, followed four earthquakes that shook the south of the country in quick succession. Heavy rains continue to pound Barillas and townspeople fear another landslide. Businesses remain closed.
Eight of the dead are members of Coop Manager Carlos Alvaros’ family.
Total damages are estimated at roughly $3,000,000 and the cost to rebuild ASOBAGRI’s facilities is estimated at over $550,000.
With a population of 127,000, the coffee coop is one of the town’s leading sources of income for the 1,200 members and 25 employees growing coffee in the surrounding foothills.
Ethical Bean Coffee has responded to the disaster by calling for aid from local coffee roasters and Transfair Canada and will update this blog as events unfold.
Efforts are ongoing and we urge you to donate to the disaster relief.