Agatha death toll rises to 40

GUATEMALA CITY, May 30 (UPI) -- Tropical Storm Agatha brought pounding rain and high winds to Central America during the weekend, killing at least 40 people, officials said.

Agatha -- which became the first tropical depression of the year in the Eastern Pacific Basin early Saturday -- was upgraded to a tropical storm by midday, and then was downgraded to a tropical depression again late in the day, reported.


The storm triggered flash flooding and mudslides in Guatemala. At least 30 people were missing due to the storm in Guatemala and El Salvador, the Latin American Herald Tribune reported Sunday. Emergency management officials said almost 75,000 people have been evacuated and an estimated 3,500 homes have been damaged by the storm, along with bridges and other installations, the newspaper said.

Forecasters said Agatha is likely to stall over the country for about five days. Winds are expected to lose strength but heavy to moderate rains are likely to persist.

Thursday's eruption of the Pacaya Volcano, near Guatemala City, could worsen flooding problems after showering the capital city with up to 3 inches of ash.

Guatemala City's La Aurora International Airport will remain closed for about three days because the heavy rain has prevented maintenance crews from clearing the runway of tons of sand deposited there by the eruption, the newspaper said. Incoming flights were being diverted to Comalapa airport in El Salvador, where passengers were being taken to Guatemala City by bus.


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