Landslide kills at least 20 people in Yemen

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The Independent Online

A landslide has crushed about 30 homes at the foot of a north Yemeni mountain, killing at least 20 villagers, Interior Ministry and medical officials said today.

"Big rocks came tumbling down the side of the mountain," said the leader of Dhafeer village, Saleh Hamoud. "This making it difficult to reach victims because they're stuck under these big boulders."

Medics on the scene said some 20 bodies had been pulled from the rubble of where part of a mountain descended on Dhafeer, 60 miles north of the Yemeni capital of San'a, last night.

The medics, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to the media, said they fear many more bodies lie under the rubble.

Dozens of people have been wounded by the landslide, which struck when most villagers were in bed.

Community leader Saleh Hamoud said he escaped harm, but eight members of his family, including his wife and children, were missing.

The remoteness of the village and the inexperience of rescue workers was hampering the search operation, Saleh said.

"We have little experience and limited capabilities. And what's making things worse is that it happened at night when everyone was asleep in their home," said Saleh.

Ambulances rushed to the village, which takes its name from Dhafeer mountain, and major hospitals in the capital were put on emergency status.

Interior Minister Rashad al-Eleimi has visited the site to monitor the search.

For centuries, Yemenis have built their houses on the sides of mountains, sometimes carving homes out of the rock.

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