Central American is again being hit by devastating floods, in a rainy season that has wreaked destruction across the isthmus. Officials in Guatemala have called off the search for 15 people missing after deadly landslides, fearing fresh mudlsides after the heaviest rains in 60 years. The decision by the Guatemalan disaster response agency CONRED Sept. 7 came as rescuers resumed their grim task of digging for corpses in a ravine next to the Pan-American Highway in Santa Ana Mixta, Sololá department.
The popular National Coordination and Convergence Maya Waqib’ Kej issued a statement blaming the government and private contractors for the disaster, accusing them of disregarding “established norms and standards” in the construction of roads in the mountainous region.
The overall toll from the torrential rains this season stands at 45 in Guatemala, but with at least 15 more feared to be buried alive at Santa Ana Mixta. President Alvaro Colom said the tragedy is deepened by a shortage of government funds after Tropical Storm Agatha, which killed 165 people and left thousands homeless in May.
Heavy rains in southern Mexico meanwhile have caused many rivers to burst their banks, leaving thousands displaced and at least three dead in Oaxaca and Guerrero. The northeast of the country was also hit, as Tropical Storm Hermine made landfall on Sept. 6—also causing flooding as far north as Texas and Oklahoma.
Other countries hit with recent deluges and mudslides include Honduras, where floods have killed 55 this season; El Salvador, where the death toll stands at nine; and Nicaragua, with 40 dead. Fresh floods hit the Nicaraguan departments of Masaya, Granada, Jinotega, Nueva Segovia and Boaco in late August, destroying some 500 homes and leaving thousands displaced. (AP, Sept. 9; La Jornada, AlJazeera, Sept. 8; SANA, Aug. 29)
See our feature on Extreme Weather and Global Warming.