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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 October 2005, 04:21 GMT 05:21 UK
Hundreds missing after Stan storm
Rescue workers carry the body of a child that found dead after a mudslide in Panabaj, Guatemala
Rescue workers fear many more bodies are under the mud
Rescuers are continuing their search for hundreds of people missing after mudslides caused by Tropical Storm Stan hit Central America and Mexico.

The death toll in Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and southern Mexico has reached 254 amid fears that it will rise further.

There are fears the toll could rise, as rescue workers try to reach villages cut off by flooded rivers or mudslides.

The Guatemalan president wants congress to declare a state of emergency.

In one town alone, at least 50 people are known to have died in a massive mudslide.

Entire villages have been completely wiped out by landslides and flash floods.

Guatemala - 156
El Salvador - 65
Mexico - 17
Nicaragua - 10
Honduras - 4
Costa Rica - 2

Across the region, an unknown number of people remain trapped in their houses, correspondents say, with some 200,000 people forced to flee their homes.

More rain, blocked roads and collapsed bridges have been hampering rescue efforts.

Stan slammed ashore as a Category One hurricane in southern Mexico on Tuesday. Despite being downgraded to a tropical depression by the end of the day, it triggered major flooding and landslides in the region.

State of emergency

Guatemala has so far recorded at least 146 dead.

The ground is saturated and we could have more tragedies
Salvadoran Red Cross spokesman

Guatemalan President Oscar Berger has asked Congress to declare a state of emergency.

President Berger warned Guatemalans to prepare for greater losses: "We are going to have unpleasant surprises. There are many missing, many landslides, towns cut off."

The country's civil protection agency said 50 bodies were recovered from a town on the edge of Santiago Atitlan in the Mayan highlands, popular with Western visitors.

Reports in the local media say many people are still missing in the town after a mudslide.

Outside emergency teams only reached the town on Friday, and locals said they feared dozens more had died, trapped under the mud.

Tropical Storm Stan wreaks havoc across Central America.

"There are no words for this. I have only tears left," teacher Manuel Gonzalez, whose school was destroyed, told the Reuters news agency.

"There were only houses here, for as far as you could see... It makes you lose hope," Mr Gonzalez said. "There are no children left, there are no people left."

Benedicto Giron, a spokesman for the National Agency for Disaster Reduction said that if what the villagers have said is true, "we could rise to 400 deaths".

In Quezaltenango, the second most important city, people are still trapped in what remains of their homes as flood waters have reached up to two metres (6ft) high, correspondents say.

Mass evacuation

In El Salvador, at least 65 people are known to have died. Officials said nearly 54,000 others had been evacuated to 370 shelters throughout the country, despite difficulties in travelling along many of the country's roads.

"The ground is saturated and we could have more tragedies," warned Salvadoran Red Cross spokesman Carlos Lopez Mendoza.

A washed out road in Tecpan, Guatemala
Roads have been destroyed across the region

Mexico is sending aid to El Salvador after a personal plea by Salvadoran President Tony Saca.

Mexico was also struck by the weather system, which has killed at least 17 people and caused at least 30 rivers to burst their banks.

The town of Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border, was flooded and badly damaged. Residents, their clothes soaked, have appeared on television news reports begging government officials to help them recover their belongings and to find missing relatives.

In the town's shelters many complained that there was not enough food, clothing or other basic supplies.

Jordan Jimenez of Mexico's civil protection agency said some communities in the region were completely cut off: "There is flooding, in some communities mudslides; there is no access by road, no telephone communication."

Tropical Storm Stan lashes southern Mexico

Rescuers struggle in wake of Stan
06 Oct 05 |  Americas
Storm kills 39 in Central America
04 Oct 05 |  Americas
In pictures: Central America storm
04 Oct 05 |  In Pictures
El Salvador volcano causes chaos
02 Oct 05 |  Americas
Hurricane Adrian hits El Salvador
20 May 05 |  Americas
Country profile: El Salvador
30 Aug 05 |  Country profiles

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