Guatemala mudslide toll rises to 253 dead

Volunteer firemen carry a corpse recovered from the debris in the village of El Cambray II, in Santa Catarina Pinula municipality on October 6, 2015, after a landslide struck the village

The mounting toll from a mudslide that buried a Guatemalan community on October 1 has risen to 253 confirmed dead, authorities said Friday, with several hundred more unaccounted for.

Search and rescue efforts will continue through the weekend, but on Monday officials will meet to decide how much longer to continue the operation, Deputy Public Health Minister Israel Lemus said.

Eight days after the disaster, 374 people remain unaccounted for in the town of Santa Catarina Pinula, 15 kilometers (nine miles) east of Guatemala City.

The death toll rose by 16 over Thursday's count as more remains were recovered, officials said.

The risk of another landslide, a possible disease outbreak and exhaustion of crews could cause authorities to wrap up work at the site, said Alejandro Maldonado, head of the country's disaster coordination agency known as Conred.

More than 100 homes were levelled in a section of the town known as Cambray II.

The area of the disaster has been declared uninhabitable, and crews working at the site are expected to decide on Monday whether to designate it a cemetery.

According to Conred, nearly 390 area residents have sought refuge in shelters.

With more than 180 houses in the vicinity of the disaster sustaining damage, authorities are in the process of determining where to build housing for those affected.

The public prosecutor has opened an investigation.