At least 28 dead as Julia races through Central America
former Hurricane Julia slashed a deadly path through Guatemala and El Salvador on Monday, killing dozens and flooding the nations with torrential rain. At least 28 people were killed as a direct or indirect result of the storm.
Guatemala’s civil protection agency said five people died after a slope collapsed on their home in Alta Verapaz province, burying them. And in the province of Huehuetenango, near Mexico, nine people died, including a soldier who was killed during rescue operations.
Authorities in El Salvador said five Salvadoran Army soldiers died after a wall collapsed at a house they were taking shelter in in the city of Comasagua, where hundreds of police and soldiers have been conducting raids on gangs. Another soldier was injured.
Two other people later died in the city of Guatajiagua in eastern El Salvador heavy rains brought down a wall of her house. Another man in El Salvador died when he was swept away by a current and another died when a tree fell on him.
Rivers burst their banks and El Salvador declared a state of emergency and opened 80 shelters.
In neighboring Honduras, a 22-year-old woman died when she was swept away by currents and three people died when her boat flooded or capsized. A man was killed by a falling tree in Nicaragua.
Julia met the central Caribbean coast of Nicaragua early Sunday as a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and survived passage over the country’s mountainous terrain to enter the Pacific late in the day as a tropical storm.
On Monday, Julia had moved inland across Guatemala and winds had dropped to 30 miles per hour.
The US National Hurricane Center said Julia is centered about 80 miles west-northwest of Guatemala City and is moving west-northwest at 15 mph.
The center said flooding and mudslides are possible in Central America and southern Mexico through Tuesday, with the storm expected to bring up to 15 inches of rain in remote areas.
In Guatemala, two people were reported missing and two were hospitalized, and about 1,300 people had to evacuate their homes due to flooding and rising streams.
Julia was expected to dissipate later on Monday as it runs along the Guatemalan coast.
Colombia’s Civil Protection Agency reported on Sunday that Julia blew up the roofs of several houses and knocked down trees as she sped past San Andres Island, east of Nicaragua. There were no immediate reports of deaths there.
In Nicaragua, Vice President Rosario Murillo told TN8 television that 9,500 people had been evacuated to shelters.
Heavy rains and evacuations were also reported from Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica, where some highways were closed due to the downpours.