Tropical Storm Agatha kills 144 in Central America

Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Agatha may have caused this sinkhole in Guatemala City that swallowed a three-story building. Agatha hit Guatemala hard, with 120 killed and 53 missing.

Associated Press

Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Agatha may have caused this sinkhole in Guatemala City that swallowed a three-story building. Agatha hit Guatemala hard, with 120 killed and 53 missing.

GUATEMALA CITY — Flooding and landslides from the season's first tropical storm have killed at least 145 people and left thousands homeless in Central America.

Dozens are still missing and emergency crews are struggling to reach isolated communities cut off by washed-out roads and collapsed bridges caused by Tropical Storm Agatha.

The sun emerged Monday in hardest-hit Guatemala, where officials reported 120 dead and at least 53 missing. In the department of Chimaltenango — a province west of Guatemala City — landslides buried dozens of rural Indian communities and killed at least 60 people, Gov. Erick de Leon said.

"The department has collapsed," de Leon said. "There are a lot of dead people. The roads are blocked. The shelters are overflowing. We need water, food, clothes, blankets — but above all, money."

In the tiny village of Parajbei, a slide smothered three homes and killed 11 people.

"It was raining really hard and there was a huge noise," said Vicente Azcaj, 56, who ran outside and saw that a hill had crumbled. "Now everyone is afraid that the same will happen to their homes."

Volunteers from nearby villages worked nonstop since Sunday to recover the bodies in Parajbei, and on Monday they found the last two: brothers, 4 and 8 years old, who were buried under tons of dirt, rocks and trees.

In all some 110,000 people were evacuated in Guatemala.

Thousands more have fled their homes in neighboring Honduras, where the death toll rose to 15 even as meteorologists predicted three more days of rain.

In El Salvador, 11,000 people were evacuated. The death toll rose to 10 and two others were missing, President Mauricio Funes said Monday night.

Tropical Storm Agatha kills 144 in Central America 05/31/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 12:08am]

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