Pacific storm Agatha slams into Guatemala, 13 dead

Tropical Storm Agatha slammed into Guatemala`s Pacific coast on Saturday.

Guatemala City: Tropical Storm Agatha slammed into Guatemala`s Pacific coast near the Mexican border on Saturday, lashing the region with torrential rains and killing at least 13 people.

Agatha, the first named storm of the 2010 Pacific hurricane season, brewed up on Saturday morning and quickly raced inland. It was blamed for the deaths of 12 people in Guatemala and one in El Salvador.

Guatemala declared a state of emergency as heavy rain hammered the Central American nation, triggering mudslides that cut off roads, buried houses and stoked fears about the fate of Central America`s biggest coffee crop, already at risk due to a volcanic eruption.

Two adults and two children were killed when their home was buried in a mudslide in Alomolonga, 120 miles west of the capital, Guatemala City, emergency officials reported.

Another four children and four adults were killed in separate incidents in the capital, where mudslides and heavy rains brought traffic to a standstill and knocked out power in various neighbourhoods, emergency officials said.

Eleven people were reported missing.

"This (storm) is serious. ... The worst will come around 9 am (on Sunday) and we are extending the state of emergency to the entire country," President Alvaro Colom told a news conference, adding the government was evacuating many families from at-risk areas.

Emergency workers reported rivers were already swollen by heavy rain and warned flooding could be worse than usual due to ash from the erupting Pacaya volcano south of the capital that has blocked drainage systems.

In El Salvador, an elderly man was swept away by rainwater and dragged into a gully where he drowned, emergency officials reported.

Last November`s Hurricane Ida triggered flooding and mudslides that killed at least 150 people as it moved north past Central America.

Bureau Report

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