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Sunday, September 19, 1999 Published at 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK

World: Americas

Floods devastate Central America

A child crosses a flooded street in Tegucigalpa

By Mike Lanchin in San Salvador

Torrential rain, flooding and mudslides across central America have left at least 14 dead over the past few days and thousands of farmers' crops and properties ravaged.

The bad weather has been blamed on a low pressure belt left by Hurricane Floyd. It comes almost a year after Hurricane Mitch wreaked chaos on the region leaving more than 20,000 dead, mostly notably in Honduras and Nicaragua.

[ image: Crossing a flooded road in El Salvador]
Crossing a flooded road in El Salvador
The emergency services have been on alert in both Honduras and El Salvador since late Thursday, when driving rain began threatening a repeat of Hurricane Mitch.

Four people have been reported killed so far in Honduras as the country's air force has been mobilised to evacuate stranded communities.

Honduran President Carlos Flores has called on people to remain calm.

There has not been a repeat of the dramatic scenes of flooding in much of the Honduran capital which we saw during Mitch.

But one of the city's main roads was under water at one stage on Friday due to blocked drains as rain water poured down from the neighbouring hillsides.

A luxury hotel's first floor was also flooded.


In neighbouring El Salvador many of the 2,000 people evacuated last weekend from coastal areas in eastern Usulatan when flash floods left four people dead have decided to stay put in their temporary refuges.

[ image: Cleaning up in Tegucigalpa]
Cleaning up in Tegucigalpa
Two people died on Friday when their car was washed away by a river that broke its banks in the southern Salvador import town of La Libertad.

In Guatemala and Nicaragua there are also reports of casualties and damage from the storms.

In Nicaragua traffic along the main Pan American highway was interrupted by flooding.

So far the situation in Central America has not been as serious as further north in Mexico where the emergency services have reported 25,000 people having been evacuated due to storm flooding.

But with more rain forecast for the whole region in the next few hours the authorities are warning that the worse may not yet be over.

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