Mexico Churches Spared Damage in Major Mudslide

OAXACA, MEXICO (September 29, 2010) – Two Mexico Covenant churches were not affected by a major mudslide Tuesday that destroyed part of a mountain village, missionaries said today.

The mudslide hit Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec during the morning. Although early news reports indicated that up to 1,000 people could be affected, rescuers who reached the scene said 11 people were missing, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

The two churches in the area are Mixistlan de la Reforma and Santa Maria Mixistlan. “The latter is Mexico’s largest Covenant congregation, with attendance typically around 200 and sometimes as high as 400,” says David Mark, Department of World Mission co-coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Getting any information from the area affected by the mudslide is nearly impossible due to its remote location in the mountains. “There is only one road and it is often closed when it rains,” says Mark. “There are no (telephone) landlines, a few beefed up CB radios owned by bus drivers and truckers, no cell phone service and a handful of satellite phones.”

Covenant short-term missionary Bruce Dockter was able to call a friend in the area. He reported that the main access road, which is dirt, is impassable.

The villages are high up in very steep mountains and subject to the danger of severe mudslides during rainy seasons, Mark says.

According to the BBC, parts of Mexico, including Oaxaca, have endured their worst rainy season on record. The rains continue to drench the region. The flooding and mudslides already have forced thousands from their homes.

This area constitutes some of the core homeland of the Mixe (MEE-hay), one of 16 indigenous groups of the state of Oaxaca,” says Dockter. Nearly all of the 100,000 Mixe who live in the area still speak their native language as the primary language.

Click here to see photos on the BBC website.

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