Ponce, Puerto Rico — Hundreds of people were missing last week after a sea of mud surged over a shantytown following three days of torrential rains. So far, 84 people are known to have died in the mud slide and elsewhere in the island in floods that Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon has called the worst tragedy to ever strike Puerto Rico. Pedro Gonzales Ortiz, the civil defense director of Ponce, said hundreds were missing under the mud that engulfed the hillside shantytown north of here early Oct. 7.
Officials said 263 homes were engulfed when earth and rock from a mountainside slid over the community of Mamayes.
At time of writing, after more than a day of rescue work, no survivors have been found.
In the southern part of the island, flood waters from the storm washed out bridges, inundated highways and left more than 3,000 people homeless.
Thousands of civil defense workers and more than 300 National Guardsmen have joined the rescue effort. Coast Guard helicopters and National Guard planes were being used to airlift emergency supplies to towns isolated by avalanches and flooded roads.