At least 46 people have died in mountain communities in Veracruz and Puebla since tropical storm Earl made landfall Friday night, delivering heavy rain that has caused flooding and mudslides and forced hundreds of people to flee their homes.
The death toll could well be much higher, warned Luis Felipe Puente, national coordinator of the Civil Protection agency.
The municipalities of Coscomatepec, about 145 kilometers south of Xalapa, and Tequila, 40 kilometers south of Córdoba, were the hardest hit in Veracruz, where 10 deaths have been reported.
In Puebla, the Pueblo Mágico of Huauchinango, Tlacoyunga, Xaltepec and La Cumbre recorded the largest number of deaths.
Civil Protection has declared a state of emergency for many of those areas due to the damage caused by heavy rains Friday and Saturday.
In some, such as Huauchinango, the rain has not let up. It rained again last night and early this morning, forcing dozens more people to seek refuge in community shelters.
Civil Protection and Red Cross personnel have been dispatched from the city of Puebla to provide search and rescue and emergency assistance this morning to the affected areas, located in the north of the state.
Mudslides and flooding caused by remnants of the storm were also reported in Guerrero and Hidalgo.
Puente said the chief concern today was the instability of hillsides in mountain regions of Veracruz and Puebla because of the heavy rain. Deforestation caused by homes being built, in many cases illegally, on mountain slopes has left them vulnerable to slides.
Many of the victims died in a mudslide in Huauchinango where noises were heard coming from a hillside at 9:00pm Saturday. Rocks began rolling down the hill and then the mud came down, taking houses with it.
Searchers, including army personnel, saved a number of people trapped by the mud, including a two-year-old girl. But her parents have not been found.