Switch to Desktop Site
 
 

More deaths reported and a giant sinkhole in Guatemala from TS Agatha

There are now 179 reported deaths in Guatemala from last weekend's Tropical Storm Agatha, along with a giant sinkhole in Guatemala City that has swallowed a clothing factory.

Image

A giant sinkhole caused by the rains of tropical storm Agatha is seen in Guatemala City June 1, 2010. Collapsed roads and highway bridges complicated rescue efforts in Guatemala on Tuesday after Tropical Storm Agatha drenched Central America, burying homes under mud and killing at least 175 people.

REUTERS/Daniel LeClair

About these ads

Rural villagers used hoes and pick axes to hunt for victims of landslides that have killed at least 179 people in Central America while officials in Guatemala's capital tried to cope with a vast sinkhole that swallowed a clothing factory.

Thousands remained homeless and dozens still missing following the season's first tropical storm. Rescue crews struggled to reach isolated communities to distribute food and water.

"This is a total tragedy," said Jose Vicente Samayoa, president of a neighborhood group in Amatitlan, a flooded town south of Guatemala's capital.

IN PICTURES: Sinkholes around the world

Officials in Guatemala reported 152 dead but said 100 people were still missing. In the department of Chimaltenango — a province west of Guatemala City — landslides buried rural Indian communities and killed at least 60 people.

Curious onlookers also gathered at a massive sinkhole that swallowed an entire intersection in Guatemala City over the weekend, gulping down a clothing factory but causing no deaths or injuries.

Authorities estimate the hole is 65 feet (20 meters) deep and say it was caused by water from Tropical Storm Agatha.

Nearly 125,000 people were evacuated in Guatemala and thousands more fled their homes in neighboring Honduras, where the death toll rose to 17 after two youths disappeared while bathing in a turbulent river despite official warnings to stay away from swollen waterways.

About these ads

Most schools also resumed classes on Tuesday in Honduras.

In El Salvador, 11,000 people were evacuated. The death toll rose to 10 and two others were missing, President Mauricio Funes said Monday night.

About 95 percent of the country's roads were affected by landslides, but most remained open, Transportation Minister Gerson Martinez said. He said 179 bridges had been wrecked.

Agatha made landfall near the Guatemala-Mexico border on Saturday with tropical storm winds of up to 45 mph (75 kph). It dissipated the following day over the mountains of western Guatemala.

The rising death toll is reminding nervous residents of Hurricane Mitch, which hovered over Central America for days in 1998, causing flooding and mudslides that killed nearly 11,000 people and left more than 8,000 missing and unaccounted for.

Rescue efforts in Guatemala have been complicated by a volcanic eruption Thursday near the capital that blanketed parts of the area with ash.

Commercial flights were expected to resume Tuesday at Guatemala's international airport.

Related:

IN PICTURES: Sinkholes around the world


Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.

Share

Loading...