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June 1, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Tropical Storm Agatha Hits Central America and Kills 150

On Saturday, Tropical Storm Agatha made landfall near the Guatemala-Mexico border with winds up to 45 mph and officials say at least 150 people were killed with thousands left homeless. Torrential rains washed out roads and bridges collapsed as the season’s first tropical storm moved onshore. One of the hardest hit areas was Guatemala and according to Governor Erick de Leon, in the department (state) of Chimaltenango, dozens were buried by landslides which killed at least 60 people.

Flooding caused by Tropical Storm Agatha in Retalhuleu, which is located in southwest Guatemala. Image: Reuters

Not only were residents of Guatemala impacted by the recent tropical storm, but in El Salvador, at least 179 landslides have been reported and 11,000 people were evacuated. President Mauricio Funes said that the death toll right now stands at nine. In Honduras, thousands have fled their homes and the death toll has risen to 15.

The Choluteca River overflowing after heavy rains in Tegucigalpa, Honduras due to Tropical Storm Agatha. Image: Reuters

Rescue efforts in Guatemala have been complicated the past few days by the eruption of the Pacaya volcano that occurred last Thursday near the capital. Volcanic ash covered parts of the area and was responsible for closing the country’s main airport La Aurora International. Officials are now allowing helicopters and propeller planes to take off, but commercial flights remain grounded today. The airport is expected to re-open tomorrow.

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