Torrential rains, flooding and landslides triggered by Tropical Storm Agatha have killed more than 80 people in Guatemala and neighbouring El Salvador.
“As of the moment, we have counted 73 people killed throughout the country, the majority from landslides,” said Guatemala’s emergency management agency chief David de Leon.
The worst storm-related disaster occurred in the village of San Antonio Palopo, in Solola, where a landslide swept away 25 homes, killing 15 people, with another 10 missing.
Also among the dead were four children killed when their house was washed away.
Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom said 74,500 people had been forced from their
homes because of the threat of further cave-ins and flooding.
Flash floods, mudslides
In El Salvador, President Mauricio Funes declared a state of emergency, as the death toll from the storm rose to nine.
Funes said that even though the storm was weakening, the risk of mudslides and flash floods “remains very high”.
Tropical Storm Agatha made landfall overnight packing winds of 65km per hour, but was quickly downgraded to a tropical depression, with wind speeds decreasing by half.
Honduras has declared a nationwide state of emergency and established a crisis management committee to address heavy flooding and other effects from the storm.
Colombia and the US have offered to send aircraft to ferry aid or help with evacuations of storm-hit areas, but Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport has been closed since Friday after being showered by volcanic ash from the eruption of the Pacaya volcano.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has offered the airport in the border city of Tapachula for emergency flights in and out of Guatemala.