Prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into a deadly landslide in Guatemala that has left nearly 200 people dead and hundreds still missing.

The goal of the investigation is to identify and prosecute those responsible, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Office of the Public Prosecutor.

Investigators are looking into whether there were timely warnings of risk, what actions were taken by officials and whether the legal requirements were fulfilled for residential construction in an area considered high risk.

“What the Office of the Public Prosecutor seeks is respect for the country’s laws,” Rootman Pérez, the agency’s secretary of criminal policy, said in the statement.

As in any other case, the investigating agency must send a message that no one is above the law, Pérez said.

The landslide occurred Thursday, when heavy rains caused a hillside to collapse onto El Cambray II, a settlement on the southeastern outskirts of Guatemala City.

El Cambray II was identified as a high-risk area as far back as 2008, according to CONRED, the National Coordination for Disaster Prevention. CONRED inspected the area last November and confirmed the risk to the municipal government of Santa Catarina Pinula, where the landslide occurred.

The death toll rose to 186 on Tuesday, officials working at a provisional morgue reported. An estimated 350 people are still unaccounted for and another 356 are staying at five shelters, according to statistics released Tuesday morning by CONRED.

Search and recovery efforts continue. Unstable terrain and a second, smaller landslide Monday forced emergency personnel to temporarily suspend operations. After evaluating the situation, they resumed work with additional cautionary measures.

Conditions permitting, the goal is to continue until there is “not a single body in the affected area”, said CONRED executive secretary Alejandro Maldonado.

Disaster response operations are being coordinated by CONRED, volunteer and municipal firefighters, the army engineer corps, and the national police force.

Specialists from the Mexican armed forces, federal police force, and civilian protection agency are providing assistance.

Anadolu Agency