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Fatal Tropical Hurricane Amanda Hits El Salvador, Guatemala

Tropical Storm Amanda, the first named storm of the season in the Pacific, killed 10 people as it lashed El Salvador and Guatemala on Sunday amid flooding and power outages.

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele declared a state of emergency for 15 days to cope with the effects of the storm, which lost strength later in the day as it moved into Guatemala.

The fatalities were all recorded in El Salvador, senior cabinet official Carolina Recinos said, adding that one person is reported missing.



Flash-floods unleashed by Tropical Storm Amanda tossed cars around like toys in several San Salvador neighborhoods


Flash-floods unleashed by Tropical Storm Amanda tossed cars around like toys in several San Salvador neighborhoods
 AFP / Yuri CORTEZ

In the capital, San Salvador, 50 homes were damaged by rain and powerful winds, while 23 vehicles were swallowed by a sinkhole, Mayor Ernesto Muyshondt said.



Landslides and swollen rivers destroyed homes in working-class neighborhoods of El Salvador's capital San Salvador


Landslides and swollen rivers destroyed homes in working-class neighborhoods of El Salvador’s capital San Salvador
 AFP / Yuri CORTEZ

“We are experiencing an unprecedented situation: one top-level emergency on top of another serious one,” he said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic in place before the rain hit.

In some flooded areas, soldiers worked alongside emergency personnel to rescue people.



Flooding was especially intense in the Santa Lucia neighborhood of Ilopango, El Salvador, where the roof of a vehicle is barely visible in the flood water


Flooding was especially intense in the Santa Lucia neighborhood of Ilopango, El Salvador, where the roof of a vehicle is barely visible in the flood water
 AFP / MARVIN RECINOS

“We lost everything, we’ve been left with nowhere to live,” said Isidro Gomez, a resident of hard-hid southeastern San Salvador, after a nearby river overflowed and destroyed his home.

Another victim, Mariano Ramos, said that at dawn residents of his San Salvador neighborhood were slammed by an avalanche of mud and water. An elderly man died in the neighborhood, officials said.

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El Salvador’s Environment Ministry warned residents of the “high probability” of multiple landslides of rocks and debris that could damage buildings and injure or kill people.

Nearly 90 percent of El Salvador, population 6.6 million, is considered vulnerable to flooding and landslides.

In neighboring Guatemala, officials said roads had been blocked by at least five landslides and some flooding was reported, but no evacuations were underway.

Even though Amanda weakened to tropical depression status, Guatemalan officials warned that heavy rain would continue with swollen rivers and possible “landslides affecting highways … and flooding in coastal areas.”


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