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Floods kill scores in El Salvador, other parts of Central America

October 18, 2011 | 10:02 pm



REPORTING FROM SAN SALVADOR -- Heavy rains across Central America have swollen rivers, flooded towns and farmland and killed nearly 100 people. Tens of thousands have been forced to evacuate and seek shelter, and the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua have declared national disasters.

Hardest hit was El Salvador (link in Spanish), where authorities said more rain fell in the last eight days than during the devastating 1998 Hurricane Mitch. The Lempa River washed over its banks and flooded more than 18,000 homes.

"It is a rain unprecedented in the history of El Salvador," Environmental Minister Herman Rosa Chavez said.

An estimated $2 million in Salvadoran coffee crops and production were also lost, La Prensa Grafica reported (link in Spanish).

Angel Arnaiz Quintana, a priest living in the badly flooded Usulutan region, said damage was extensive, hundreds of people in his community were stranded without food, and disease was spreading. "This was a rush of water that no one could stop," he told The Times by telephone. "Almost a tsunami."

International aid from the U.S., Mexico, Europe and elsewhere has already been pledged.


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-- Alex Renderos

Photo: A couple outside their flooded home on Oct. 17, 2011, in Marcovia, Honduras. Credit: Reuters