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Death Toll in Central American Floods, Landslides Up to 770


The United Nations has launched an emergency $22 million appeal to help Guatemala deal with the severe flooding and mudslides triggered by Hurricane Stan.

The official death toll from floods and mudslides ravaging Central America is up to 770, with hundreds more missing and feared dead, mostly in Guatemala.

Officials in Guatemala want two western villages buried in giant mudflows, Panabaj and Tzanchaj, declared mass graves.

The mayor of Panabaj has said that his village "will no longer exist." He says 250 people are missing from the hamlet on the shores of Lake Atitlan.

Mayan villagers who spent days digging through the mud searching for victims stopped Sunday after more rain made the ground too soft and unstable to continue.

The floods and mudslides were triggered by torrential rains from Hurricane Stan,which struck Mexico and much of Central America last week.

Guatemala's official death toll of 652 is expected to rise. The storm also killed more than 100 people in El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Honduras.

In a statement released Monday, the United Nations said Guatemalan and U.N. officials have identified priorities for international emergency assistance, including food, water, communications equipment and temporary shelters.

Officials in Guatemala say it will take weeks to dig out the bodies, and have requested the federal government to declare the devastated area a mass grave.

Some information for this story provided by AP and AFP.

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