14 Oct 2011

Flooding hits Central America

6:38 pm on 14 October 2011

Two storm systems have left 29 people dead and forced tens of thousands from their homes along Central America and Mexico's Pacific coast.

The storms triggered heavy flooding, blocked roads, and caused electricity outages and mudslides. Many homes were destroyed.

Officials say 24 of the dead are in Central America, where nearly 60,000 people have also been made homeless.

Guatemala - where 15 people died and more than 52,000 were forced from their homes - was the hardest hit.

The heavy rains caused landslides on several major highways in the Central American country and Vice-president Rafael Espada urged residents to avoid unnecessary travel over the next 48 hours, with more rain expected.

Elsewhere in Central America, rescuers recovered nine bodies in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Another five people died in Mexico, where at least 4,000 people have been forced to leave their homes.

The storms battered Mexico just as thousands of athletes began arriving for the Pan American Games, which begin on Friday in Guadalajara, the Jalisco state capital more than 100 kms from the coast.

Authorities have insisted that the games, one of the premier events on the global sports calendar, would not be affected, though some venues required last-minute repairs.