Tropical Storm Agatha Kills 74 in Floods
At least 74 people were confirmed dead in Guatemala on Sunday, one day after Tropical Storm, Agatha, slammed into the Central American country.
The first named storm of the 2010 Pacific hurricane season, hit the Guatemalan coast near its border with Mexico.
More than 74,000 people have fled their homes.
In the small hamlet of La Canada, near Amatitlan City, Gilberto Garzon, a local resident, says he was forced to flee by the flooding and debris.
[Gilberto Garzon, La Canada Resident]:
"This was just a normal little road, but eventually it began to grow and then brought down all these rocks and wood. It was terrible because you could hear the screams of many people. We had to flee to higher ground.”
Gerson Cruz, another local resident, says he has never seen destruction on such a scale.
[Gerson Cruz, La Canada Resident]:
"I've been living here for around eight years and nothing like this has ever happened. There were some five or ten homes here, but now it's a disaster. My house is nearby, it almost collapsed. The back walls are broken.”
At least 14 people are believed dead in the town of San Antonio Palopo, 90 miles southeast of the capital, Guatemala City, after a huge mudslide engulfed an entire neighborhood.
Rescue workers scrambled to restore communications to towns and villages cut off by landslides, where other victims were feared to be.
The intense rainfall has sparked concern over the condition of the coffee crop in Guatemala, the region's biggest producer, as well as in El Salvador, where the rains fell heaviest in the principal coffee-growing region.
The storm dissipated overnight as it crossed the western mountains of Guatemala but emergency workers warn residents to expect heavy rain for several more days.
Swollen rivers burst their banks and mudslides buried homes in towns and cities alike.
A highway bridge near Guatemala City was swept away by the floodwaters and sinkholes opened up in the capital where many neighborhoods remained without electricity.
President Alvaro Colom says more than 3 feet of rain fell in some parts of Guatemala.
Guatemalan officials warn that the flooding from the storm may be worsened by ash spewing out of the Pacaya volcano, which has blocked drainage systems.
The volcano, 25 miles south of Guatemala City, is close to some of Guatemala's most prized coffee plantations.