9 Nov 2009

Hurricane Ida heads for US; 124 dead in El Salvador

8:30 pm on 9 November 2009

Hurricane Ida is now heading towards the United States Gulf coast, after floods and mudslides triggered by the storm killed 124 people in the central American nation of El Salvador.

The storm is picking up strength with winds of up to 120 km per hour as it enters the Gulf of Mexico.

The National Hurricane Center in the United States has set a hurricane watch from Louisiana to northwestern Florida.

Louisiana's Governor has declared a state of emergency allowing the government to mobilise troops and rescue workers.

Meanwhile rescue efforts are continuing in the worst affected area of El Salvador, where 7000 people are in shelters and 60 people are still missing.

President Mauricio Funes made the announcement in a radio broadcast in which he said the damaged sustained by his country is incalculable.

A state of emergency has been declared in five regions of El Salvador.

Interior Minister Humberto Centeno says rescue workers are still struggling to reach some of the worst-affected areas.

Heavy rains began falling on El Salvador on Saturday night as the storm moved through. Rivers burst their banks and mudslides in the country's hilly interior cut roads and buried houses.