Costa Rica landslide
© ReutersVolunteers search for landslide victims in the San Antonio de Escazu district
A landslide in Costa Rica caused by heavy rain has killed at least 20 people in a suburb of the capital, San Jose, officials say.

A number of people are still missing following the landslide in the western district of San Antonio de Escazu.

A hillside gave way, sending tons of rock and earth onto the houses below.

The Costa Rican government is considering declaring a national emergency.

Rescuers were searching for survivors in the district, where poor people live in shanty dwellings alongside much more upmarket homes.

The area is popular with hikers and rock climbers.

Exceptional rain

President Laura Chinchilla requested help from neighbouring countries to reach remote areas of the country that have been flooded by the storm.

She said the downpour was likely to continue into Friday.

"The important thing now is to be thinking of the victims' families," she told a news conference.

Hundreds of people in the capital and along the Pacific coast have been moved to temporary accommodation because of the flooding.

National Emergency Commission President Vanessa Rosales said the rains may have had damaged several major coffee-growing areas in Costa Rica's highlands.

The National Meteorological Institute said that since Tuesday the equivalent of three times the average rainfall for the whole of November had been recorded in the Pacific area.