Deadly Tropical Storm Amanda hits El Salvador, Guatemala
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San Salvador (AFP) –
Tropical Storm Amanda, the first named storm of the season in the Pacific, killed 10 people as it lashed El Salvador and Guatemala on Sunday amid flooding and power outages.
El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele declared a state of emergency for 15 days to cope with the effects of the storm, which lost strength later in the day as it moved into Guatemala.
The fatalities were all recorded in El Salvador, senior cabinet official Carolina Recinos said, adding that one person is reported missing.
In the capital, San Salvador, 50 homes were damaged by rain and powerful winds, while 23 vehicles were swallowed by a sinkhole, Mayor Ernesto Muyshondt said.
"We are experiencing an unprecedented situation: one top-level emergency on top of another serious one," he said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic in place before the rain hit.
In some flooded areas, soldiers worked alongside emergency personnel to rescue people.
"We lost everything, we've been left with nowhere to live," said Isidro Gomez, a resident of hard-hid southeastern San Salvador, after a nearby river overflowed and destroyed his home.
Another victim, Mariano Ramos, said that at dawn residents of his San Salvador neighborhood were slammed by an avalanche of mud and water. An elderly man died in the neighborhood, officials said.
El Salvador's Environment Ministry warned residents of the "high probability" of multiple landslides of rocks and debris that could damage buildings and injure or kill people.
Nearly 90 percent of El Salvador, population 6.6 million, is considered vulnerable to flooding and landslides.
In neighboring Guatemala, officials said roads had been blocked by at least five landslides and some flooding was reported, but no evacuations were underway.
Even though Amanda weakened to tropical depression status, Guatemalan officials warned that heavy rain would continue with swollen rivers and possible "landslides affecting highways ... and flooding in coastal areas."
© 2020 AFP