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Storm leaves 18 dead in Central America: Officials

Last Updated: Sunday, May 30, 2010 - 22:12

San Salvador: The first tropical storm of
the season has left at least 18 people dead in Guatemala and
El Salvador, officials in both countries said.

Tropical Storm Agatha was downgraded to a tropical
depression this morning, but the damage caused by rains and
high winds prompted the government in El Salvador to declare a
state of emergency.

Civil defense chief Jorge Melendez said six people have
been confirmed killed in weather-related accidents in El
Salvador, and two others were missing.

In Guatemala, flash floods and mudslides killed 12 people
and left 16 missing, the national disaster response agency
said, adding that an estimated 20,000 people have been left
homeless by the storm.

Colombia and the United States offered to send aircraft
to ferry aid or help with evacuations of storm-hit areas.

Guatemala City`s La Aurora International Airport,
however, has been closed since Friday after being showered by
volcanic ash from the eruption two days earlier of the Pacaya
volcano. Two people were killed and three missing after
the eruption on Wednesday.

US forecasters downgraded Agatha to a tropical depression
this morning, saying it had weakened after crossing land.

At 0830 IST, the storm was located 45 kilometres
east-northeast of Tapachula, Mexico, the Miami-based National
Hurricane Center said.

Maximum sustained winds have decreased to 55 kilometres
per hour, the center said, adding that all tropical storm
warnings have been discontinued for the region.

"Additional weakening is anticipated as Agatha moves over
the high terrain," the center noted.


First Published: Sunday, May 30, 2010 - 22:12
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