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Thousands displaced in aftermath of Tropical Storm Agatha

June 2, 2010 | 10:39 am

Guatemala agatha storm damage

Survivors of mudslides and flooding in Central America are still searching for the missing and hoping to ward off a food and sanitation crisis in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Agatha, the first major storm of the region's hurricane season. The death toll rose to 179 on Wednesday, with most of the dead concentrated in Guatemala. Tens of thousands are homeless or displaced in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

The enormous sinkhole that broke in Zone 2 of Guatemala City continues to draw curious onlookers and geologists who are eager to study it. The hole, almost perfectly round and frighteningly deep, goes down nearly 100 feet. Its cause is still a mystery.

"I can tell you what it's not: It's not a geological fault, and it's not the product of an earthquake," a government engineer in Guatemala City told the Associated Press. "We're going to have to descend."

The eruption of Guatemala's Pacaya volcano two days before the storm's landfall confounded the recovery efforts; volcanic ash blocking drains contributed to the flooding. Aid from the United Nations and the European Union began to arrive on Wednesday, Prensa Libre reported (link in Spanish).

More photos of the damage and recovery efforts at the Guatemalan government's Flickr feed.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: A truck caught in mud on Guatemala's Pacific highway. Credit: Government of Guatemala.

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