'It's a luna landscape'

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The Independent Online
IN ROLANDO Rodriguez, a north-western Nicaraguan farming village, only one out of 164 houses was standing yesterday in a vast sea of mud stretching as far as the eye could see.

Half-buried and horribly disfigured bodies poked from thigh-deep mud, before being set on fire to prevent the spread of disease.

Jose Mercedes, 26, who lost his brothers, his wife and his two children when the river of earth, rocks and trees flowed across 30 square miles of countryside was tending cattle about 100 yards from the mudslide's path. He said it looked like a flow of lava.

"I was in the pasture when I heard the noise and I ran to see what was happening. There was all this water and houses and trees were being dragged away, killing people."

The Defence minister, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, said: "It looks like a lunar landscape. It's hard to believe unless you have seen it with your own eyes."