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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 October 2005, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Are you affected by Tropical Storm Stan?
Picture sent in by Simon McCurdy
Reader picture: Simon McCurdy
Officials have called off the search for survivors of Tropical Storm Stan in Guatemala.

The official death toll stands at 652 but could increase to 2,000 as entire communities have been engulfed by landslides and mud.

Another 131 people are known to have died elsewhere in Central America and Mexico as a result of the storm.

Are you in the areas affected by Hurricane Stan? Or do you know anybody who has been affected?

Do you have any images? If so, you can send photos and mobile phone footage to yourpics@bbc.co.uk

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Their grandmother has basically lost everything
Tonya Lopez-Garcia, Carthage, Mo, USA
I have family members in one of the areas that was hit the hardest. Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango, in the town of Los Encuentros. I have talked to my sister-in-law, and she said her and her dad were fine but they have not had any contact with the other sister, which stayed in San Vicente where I believe she studies at. Their grandmother has basically lost everything, inside her home was waist deep, but is very thankful to be alive.
Tonya Lopez-Garcia, Carthage, Mo, USA

My update: My cousin has made contact and my dad's house has suffered minimal water damage. Although roads are still blocked (apparently there was an earthquake in the area as well), my cousin and an American made it to Panahachel. Prices of food in Panahachel have doubled and people are running out of money.
H Aguilar, CA, USA

Clean up going well but infection is now going to be the next problem health and hygiene, education and info is needed for the locals.
Paul Farrell, Panajchele Guatemala

I just want to add that since the devastation in Asia and Pakistan, there has been little international focus on Guatemala. Guatemala is going to struggle re-building. We did not just have mudslides, but also torrential rains and some small earthquakes. All that mixed together destroyed whole sections of roads, including bridges throughout the South and Southwest of Guatemala. Thank you for your coverage on this! Thank the lord that Guatemala City was saved, but it is such a shame that many towns that we knew will never be the same (or will never be rebuilt!). My soul cries for all the extremely poor and the Mayan people who have perished or have lost friends and family! Please help this beautiful country rebuild in any way you can! It is way to poor to fix itself!
Abbe, Guatemala City

Guatemala is a country stricken by poverty and it does not have sufficient resources to help those who need it the most
Diana V, Guatemala City, Guatemala
I currently living with my family in Guatemala City and the situation is terrible. Sadly, the news is not covering the devastating consequences of Stan because Katrina is still the big issue for the U.S. It is terribly sad to see how bad the country is being affected by the storm, despite its low rating of 1. The roads are in terrible conditions, keeping aid from reaching the areas most in need. Guatemala is a country stricken by poverty and it does not have sufficient resources to help those who need it the most. In addition to national contributions, foreign aid would greatly help. I hope people open up their hearts and help in any way that they can to lessen the severity of the problem.
Diana V, Guatemala City, Guatemala

We were evacuated from Lake Atitlan last Saturday - we were staying near Panajachel. I can confirm that Antigua has not been severely affected by the flooding, if that is any help to the readers. I'm sorry we have no news of others mentioned on this page. When we left there were no telephone lines out of the Atitlan region, and the only communication was by mobile telephone if you happened to have one with credit.
Richard Grunewald, UK

This message is from myself and Paula Malet-Warden to say that our son, Guy has now made contact and is safe and well, so thank you anyone who looked out for him, but we now know he's OK.
Ted Malet-Warden, Adelaide, South Australia

I'm flying out to Guatemala very soon for what was going to be a few weeks backpacking -does anyone know if volunteer groups are being organised anywhere near Antigua or closer? The lack of coverage of this disaster by the media is astonishing.
Sarah, London, UK

The aftermath of Hurricane Stan, in Guatemala, El Salvador and South East Mexico is of extensive areas covered by water, and many towns buried under mud slides. This situation makes it difficult to reach the affected areas with help, because roads are blocked, and the weather does not permit an air relief till the storms and weather settles down.
Jose Nigrin, Guatemala

I am currently teaching at a bilingual school in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. I used to live in San Lucas Toliman on Lake Atitlan. I am organizing a fundraiser at my school and would like to know of a relief effort in need of funds, especially in the Lake Atitlan area. Does anyone have any information on what is needed as far as volunteers right now? I would like to help out in any way, through the donations from my school or through volunteering as I am very upset about the news.
Emily Nyre, Copan, Honduras

Our daughter Katherine is working in a bar at San Pedro La Laguna. We're naturally worried sick but can do little but wait for news.
Bernard Ince, Worcestershire, UK

Our daughter, Joanna is in Guatemala at the moment. She arrived there last Sunday 2/10/05 to take part in a leatherback turtle conservation project in Monterrico. She has had to stay in Guatemala City due to the storms. We heard from her on Tuesday evening but have heard nothing since. Jo told us on that occasion that the locals were saying that the incessant rain was unheard of. We are concerned for her safety.
Lesley Tate, London, England

I just heard from my friends in San Pedro La Laguna about whom I posted earlier. Thankfully, they are safe. There are no open roads out of the area, so today they were able to take a boat across the lake to Panajachel, where there is electricity and Internet access. According to Julia, there were no deaths in San Pedro La Laguna, although there were many mudslides. It sounds like spirits there are fairly high-restaurants and cafes are serving up what they have and are accepting IOUs because of the lack of available cash. She plans to return to San Pedro La Laguna, so conditions there seem to be bearable. However, she does worry that supplies there maybe be running out.
Nathalee Stirling, San Francisco, CA

Does anyone have information of Cancun ? I am supposed to leave in two weeks from now, but I'm thinking of leaving later.
Saskia Riemis, Antwerp, Belgium

For Peter: I actually just left Guatemala yesterday. I was staying in Antigua while all the devastation occurred. Antigua was pretty much unscathed except for the loss of electricity at times. It has been a pretty surreal experience, though neighbouring towns were flooded, Antigua was fine.
N. Franklin, Aurora, CO

I am from Guatemala and I've had a very difficult time trying to find an organisation that accepts donations specifically for Guatemala. Fortunately I just found the Canadian Food for the Hungry Int'l and the Pueblo a Pueblo organisation (through the BBC website). Thanks to all for your concerns for my people. Please help those back in our linda Guatemala!
M. Barrera, Ft. Lauderdale, USA

I just hope the people of Guatemala can one day recover from this
Katie Taylor, Twickenham
Like many of the other people commenting here, I feel that it has been next to impossible to find coverage about this catastrophic event. Having spent time in the affected areas, I would like to give aid but have found it next to impossible to get any information. I just hope the people of Guatemala can one day recover from this.
Katie Taylor, Twickenham

Got phone call Saturday 8th of Oct. Jim and Leslie Boulin are ok. They live in San Pedro La Laguna. But they have no water and have run out of food. I emailed the Red Cross as they asked. They did not know that this was widespread, thought it was just them. They said all the people there need help now and to please email or call the Red Cross.
Vicki Willis, Port Lavaca, Texas

Confirm San Pedro is OK. Electricity, landline phones and mobile phones are all working and emails are getting in and out. Roads still blocked, but hopefully will be cleared today. Supplies are getting through across the lake. Rain seems to have stopped pro tem. The best in people has come out with food being shared and working parties on clearing the roads.
Derek Taylor, Cheltenham, UK

To Chris Richmond - our son is in Santa Cruz La Laguna, possibly also staying at La Iguana Perdida. We phoned him around 2200 GMT on Oct 7, and had an email on Sunday evening. He said the worst had passed, and "Santa Cruz faired okay except that they have not had any power or water for the last week. As we have a water filter, we have been supplying the town with water, and also gasoline."
Peter, Australia

I believe my daughter Heather and boyfriend Simon Wood are in Santiago de Atitlan and helping in a soup kitchen to support but we have not heard from her since Friday. Any messages would be appreciated
Margaret Parr, Warrington

I'm trying to contact my daughter Felicia Potter and her friends Carly Macfarlane. Last heard of on October 4th, staying in Antigua. Does anyone know if the roads to and from Antigua have been closed, and if all telecommunications have been severed? We have not had any contact for a week, and are getting very worried.
Marleen Potter, Perth, Australia

This message is from myself and Paula Malet-Warden to say that our son, Guy has now made contact and is safe and well, so thank you anyone who looked out for him, but we now know he's OK.
Ted Malet-Warden, Adelaide, South Australia

Has anyone seen my son Guy Malet-Warden? He's an Aussie/Brit Was on his way to Yoga/Meditation retreat at San Marcos via Antigua, San Pedro and Santiago Atitlan. Last heard from Wed 5 October. Any info greatly appreciated.
Paula, Sunshine Coast Australia

I am searching for news about San Pedro La Laguna: I know people who live there and I am anxious about the conditions and the situation over there. Can anyone tell me if the village is affected with flooding or mudslides?
Alex Lefrans Leduc, Canada

I visited Lake Atitlan a few years ago and was touched by the warmth and friendliness of the people and the deeply spiritual feeling and amazing beauty of the place. I cannot imagine what you are all going through but I just want to send you all my thoughts and prayers. Please let me know if there is any way I can help.
Jennifer Helme, Birmingham England

My daughter lives in San Lucas near Guatemala City and fortunately appears to have been unaffected by flooding. But I am so sad for a wonderful country and its people and have visited Panajachel, Solala and Antigua. Like others, cannot believe what little coverage this has had on the news. I do hope the lady from Devon hears good news about her daughter and family and would love to hear from her if possible as it would be good to be in touch with someone in this country with their daughter also living so far away. My daughter is marrying a Guatemalan next year.
Hazel Dickson, York, England

The best in people has come out with food being shared and working parties on clearing the roads
Derek Taylor, Cheltenham, UK
Confirm San Pedro is OK. Electricity, landline phones and mobile phones are all working and e-mails are getting in and out. Roads still blocked, but hopefully will be cleared today. Supplies are getting through across the lake. Rain seems to have stopped pro tem. The best in people has come out with food being shared and working parties on clearing the roads. This came direct from San Pedro 10/10/05
Derek Taylor, Cheltenham, UK

My good friend Alma Rivera - who is working in Berlin, Germany - is searching for her 4 kids in Santa Cruz Muluá. Does someone know if this village was badly affected or not?
Blanca Garcia, Berlin, Germany

I am searching for news of my sister, Linda Selway, a long time resident of Panajachel. Her "birdhouse" is near the river in Jucanya. She also has a small house in Habilito, a short boat ride from Pana. If anyone is reading this and knows of her whereabouts, we don't have a working phone number for her and are very worried.
Carol Nix, Independence, WV, USA

My sister Felicia Potter and her friend Carley, last contacted us last Tuesday from Antigua, Guatemala. We haven't heard from either of them since and my sister had been keeping in touch with us via e-mail every day or so prior to the landslides. My family and I are desperate to know what the conditions are like in Antigua and whether all the phone lines are down, hence why we haven't heard from her? Please if anyone knows anything about Antigua, please let me know.
Steph Potter, Perth, Australia

Please, has anyone in the Atatlan area heard of, or met, my son, Guy Malet-Warden? Any news would be very much appreciated. Thank you.
Ted Malet-Warden, Adelaide, South Australia

My friend Mandy Aaberg has been studying abroad for about the past year. On her way home she was in a village near Lake Apitain. Her mother heard from her the morning before the earthquake hit but has not heard from her since. Please contact if you know anything at all.
Molly Tolle, Washington

I believe my daughter Heather and boyfriend Simon Wood are in Santiago de Atitlan and helping in a soup kitchen to support e.g. firemen But we have not heard from her since Friday Any messages wood be appreciated
Margaret Parr, Warrington

Does anyone know if Antigua has been affected by the hurricane? My daughter Felicia Potter and her Friend Carly Macfarlane were staying there when the hurricane hit. Our last contact via e-mail was on Tuesday 4th of October, nothing since then. Please let me know if the phone lines are down, so at least we can assume they are safe, and can't contact us because of the damage to the phone system.
Marleen Potter, Perth, Australia

Does anyone know about the condition of San Andres Semetabaj, just up the mountain from Panajachel? I have dear family that lives there and have not heard any mention of this small, loving community.
Annette White, North Carolina, USA

As an American not attuned to current US policy, I am also disgusted by the lack of media coverage of Stan and effects on all of Central America. I have been trying to get info on whether Costs Rica has been affected also and to what degree. Please respond if you have ANY info and God bless you one and all. Thank you.
Mischa, Tampa, FL, USA

For Peter. I actually just left Guatemala yesterday. I was staying in Antigua while all the devastation occurred. Antigua was pretty much unscathed except for the loss of electricity at times. It has been a pretty surreal experience, though neighbouring towns were flooded, Antigua was fine.
N. Franklin, Aurora, CO

I'm thinking about going to Guatemala and help out if it's possible
Peter Michaelsen, Odense, DK
I have friends in Antigua, Guatemala City and Tecpan. I haven't heard from them. I'm hoping for the best. I'm thinking about going to Guatemala and help out if it's possible. The people of Guatemala are some of the nicest in the world, and they deserve the best help possible.
Peter Michaelsen, Odense, DK

Myself and my wife lived in El Salvador for a short time whilst visiting her father and sister. We lived in Santa Tecla, just outside of San Salvador. It's hard to believe this lovely part of the world could be devastated by nature. I have recently spoke with my father-in-law, and thankfully he and his family are OK, although he has told me that some parts of San Salvador are under four foot of water. Are these countries receiving the aid they need? Probably not, and I think it's our place to get that ball rolling.
Richard Gregory, Weston-super-Mare

I spoke to my son in San Pedro on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, at 8pm on 7 October. People in San Pedro are OK, he says, although without electricity or water for a week. He was surprised I managed to get through on his mobile. A nearby village was badly hit, though, with 200 reported casualties.
Tim Kershaw, Tewkesbury, UK

Paul Murphy. We received some photos today of Escuintla itself, which is heavily under water (in one photo, a man is up to his neck in water). I know that the coastal towns (Puerto San José, Puerto Quetzal, Iztapa etc) have been under 2m of water, but it's been slow to get information here as people are trapped by the state of the roads, and most of the phone lines seem to be down.
Chantal Guevara, Antigua, Guatemala

I have a child, Bany, that I sponsor who lives in Escuintla, Guatemala. I don't know the specific town he lives in, but am very concerned for the safety of him and his family as that state is on the coast. If anyone has any updates I would sincerely appreciate it.
Paul Murphy, London, England

I just spent the summer in the regions hit by hurricane Stan and I am absolutely devastated by the news. I have to question why this seems to not be seen as a newsworthy topic. When something happens to America or the Middle East everyone is interested but when it is something that involves Latin America no one seems to care at all. I have found it almost impossible to find any information at all about what has happened and where. It is appalling.
Lucy Paton, Edinburgh, Scotland

My wife and I are missionaries from the US working in an orphanage in Teluche, Guatemala. We were stuck on the mountain where the orphanage is for five days because of the heavy rains. When we got to leave on Thursday it was unbelievable what we saw. The village next to ours lost six people in mudslides. We went to help move some stuff to higher ground for the local people and we also went back home and made some food and gathered some blankets and jackets to give the people. In the coming days we are trying to plan ways to get victims some of their basic needs like food, water and clothes. Please call or email us if you want more info.
Jeremy Keltner, Teluche, Guatemala

San Pedro itself appears to have escaped the worst, though there will be no electricity there for a week
Jonathan Miller, UK
For Jill: according to a good friend who is in San Pedro la Laguna, San Pedro itself appears to have escaped the worst, though there will be no electricity there for a week. Several hundred round the lake have been.
Jonathan Miller, UK

My husband is in San Pedro la Laguna. I was to meet him there. What town is this picture of? I need information. We are biologists and were to conduct a study on the horned guan on San Pedro Volcano.
Liz Donadio, Arcata, CA USA

Can anyone please tell me how the situation is in San Pedro La Laguna, in Guatemala? I know I would have heard from my (local) friends by email if they were able to get through, and am very concerned for the people there. Does anyone know how San Pedro has been affected?
Jessie McVeagh, Northland, New Zealand

San Pedro is OK and lots of gringos have come across to Santiago to help dig out. San Marcos was evacuated.
Heather Parr,

To Catherine Cowper, Devon, UK. I suppose that you are Hazel's mother. I have some remote news from San Marcos la Laguna. Hazel's neighbour, Manuela from Italy communicated through the telephone to a friend of mine in the city on Thursday. They have no electricity so therefore it is very difficult to communicate since the cell phones need electricity. The village of San Marcos is suffering but I believe our friends are OK. I have lived many years in San Marcos la Laguna and I am very worried but I also know that there are many good people there who are well prepared. Hope you have news soon.
Kristina Hjqvist, Grums, Sweden

To Chris, Richmond. Our son is in Santa Cruz La Laguna, possibly also staying at La Iguana Perdida. We phoned him around 2200 GMT on Oct 7, and had an e-mail on Sunday evening. He said the worst had passed, and "Santa Cruz faired okay except that they have not had any power or water for the last week. As we have a water filter, we have been supplying the town with water, and also gasoline".
Peter, Australia

I have friends who run the scuba school at La Iguana Perdida in Santa Cruz La Laguna on the north shore of Lake Atitlan, and many of the staff live in the nearby village. I have e-mailed them but heard nothing. Does anyone know the situation there?
Chris Richmond, Oxford, England

My son has reported that San Pedro la Laguna is relatively unscathed, save lack of electricity etc. He was evacuated from San Marcos, earlier this week. He is currently assisting with the clean up in Santiago.
Murray Grant, Liverpool, UK

My son and daughter in law live in the village of San Pedro. They own the restaurant called 'El Rancho' on the edge of the lake. Because I cannot contact them by telephone or e-mail, does anyone know anything about this village and how badly effected it is?
Jenny Richartd, Pefkohori, Greece

I've donated clothes to the relief effort and I'm praying it stops raining soon
Taj Fregene, Hull, UK
I was at the beach at Monterrico, Guatemala at the weekend. Torrential rain meant that when I tried to leave on Monday, I was told that it was impossible because the roads were blocked. Luckily for me I managed to blag a lift out in this guy's 4x4. We went by houses full of water, there were boats drifting down the main street in the town and the water was belly high in places. I was lucky to get out because on the Guatemalan news yesterday I hear the town is totally cut off without food, clean water medical supplies or electricity. I've donated clothes to the relief effort and I'm praying it stops raining soon.
Taj Fregene, Hull, UK

Can anyone tell me if the village of San Pedro La Laguna is affected with flooding and mudslides? My son Ben is teaching English there in a public middle school. Thanks.
Jill Sterling, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

I have a lot of friends in San Salvador. So far I have heard from a few of them and know they are safe, but I also know people living in a village outside of the city in the mountains and I'm most concerned about them. I returned from travelling this region 2 weeks ago, and I'm devastated looking at the pictures now after the storm. I sincerely hope that this region gets the help it needs, and I will be doing what I can here with my friends to help.
Lauren Moore, Manchester, UK

My dad's house is in Santa Catarina Palo Po just near Panahachel - on the mountain. My tia's house at the bottom of the hill is completely gone and my cousin who was at my dad's house is missing. I am praying that the mudslide that happened in Santiago didn't happen in Santa Catarina. I am praying that my cousin made it to Panahachel. Does anyone know if people made it out of Santa Catarina?
H. Aguilar, CA, US

I just heard from my friends in San Pedro La Laguna about whom I posted earlier. Thankfully, they are safe. There are no open roads out of the area, so today they were able to take a boat across the lake to Panajachel, where there is electricity and Internet access. According to Julia, there were no deaths in San Pedro La Laguna, although there were many mudslides. It sounds like spirits there are fairly high - restaurants and cafes are serving up what they have and are accepting IOUs because of the lack of available cash. She plans to return to San Pedro La Laguna, so conditions there seem to be bearable. However, she does worry that supplies there maybe be running out.
Nathalee Stirling, San Francisco, Ca

My friend Julia and her boyfriend Chris are studying in Guatemala and they arrived in San Pedro La Laguna last Sunday. We have not heard from them yet and we are anxious to get any news about this area.
Nathalee Stirling, San Francisco, Ca

My grandmother, cousins and several family members live in the small town of San Antonio, San Marcos. It is currently cut off by landslides, there is no electricity, the water is limited and food is running out. The lack of new coverage in the US, a neighbour, is frustrating. Why is this not on the news like Hurricane Katrina?
Ariana, Kansas City, MO

We arrived in Santiago de Atitlan on Sunday to start a volunteer placement. It started to rain in the afternoon and did not stop until last night. As of last night 54 people had already been buried, some two to a coffin, and they are expecting to find another 150 bodies. Two cases of hepatitis have been confirmed. The village was cut off entirely for two days, but some supplies and water are now arriving across the lake. Satellite internet connection is now up again, and some phone lines are working. There are 450 people staying in the school, and all the churches are housing people. There are at least 2000 people displaced. The community has been pulling together brilliantly, everyone giving food and as much clean water as they have to spare.
Heather Parr, Santiago de Atitlan, Guatemala

My daughter lives in San Marcos La Laguna with her Guatemalan husband and their baby son. We have not heard from then. Does anyone have news of that village?
Catherine Cowper, Devon, UK

Our daughter, Kara Leigh Nelson, is a student abroad with Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Last we heard, she was in Guatemala with her group but we do not know anything else.
Steve and Lisa Gandy, Midland, Texas, USA

One of my friends was lucky enough to escape unharmed and her house amazingly remains standing
Chris Gibbons, London, UK
An old friend of mine lives in one of the neighbourhoods in Escalon, San Salvador, where many of the unsteady houses were crushed by the avalanche. I saw photos of the area and got in contact with some friends to see how she was. One of my friends was lucky enough to escape unharmed and her house amazingly remains standing. Now she is staying with the parents of some friends, but worries that her house will be robbed now there is no-one there to guard it - reminiscent of the events of New Orleans. I lived in El Salvador for a year and know just how weak the houses in the poorer communities are - a mixture of corrugated iron, plastic, and often plastic sheets, held together with rope and, in the better houses, bricks and mortar. It's heartbreaking to see a nation which, for the most part, has nothing, fall further into distress.
Chris Gibbons, London, UK

So 230 people have been killed during this appalling storm. The story is quietly tucked away and given a very low key coverage. Now if I compare that to the blanket coverage given to the latest storms in the States, I'm left wondering...
Ahmed Hamaidia, Sheffield, UK

My mother lives in the mountains in Mexico (she is English) and has been affected badly by this storm. She is cut off in a lost place in the mountains, on the Tacana Volcano to be precise. It is a very beautiful place, but when you look up from the City below, Tapachla, towards Union Juarez, you can see the soil erosion very clearly, so it is no surprise that peoples homes are just sliding away and getting covered in mud.
Nicholas Golding, Tapachula Chiapas

San Andritzapa in Guatemala has been badly affected by the storm, as have the towns around Antigua, with many houses destroyed and hundreds now homeless. The situation across Guatemala is desperate to be honest. Unbelievably, CNN covered Katrina for 24 hours non-stop for 5 weeks; the situation here is just as bad and it merited a five second slot yesterday!
Dom, Antigua, Guatemala

My younger brother is Veracruz, Mexico right now as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He e-mailed our family on Monday stating that they were expecting the hurricane and were prepared to evacuate before it arrived. We still haven't heard from him yet, but I assume from the lack of coverage on Veracruz that things aren't so bad. I'm sure we'll hear from him this coming Monday with a report as I am sure he and the other missionaries will be heavily involved in the clean-up.
Cameron, Boise, Idaho, US

I have been living in Chiapas, Mexico for the last 11 years and am currently residing in Tapachula. I have never experienced anything like this. The area is a disaster zone here in the city and all along the coast here in Chiapas, one of the poorest states in Mexico. It has been raining for the past 80 hours, with extremely heavy bursts lasting between one to two hours. The soil is completely saturated thus the run off goes directly into the river channels. Here the city is totally cut off and there is only an air link to the outside. The River Coatan that runs through the city burst its banks on Tuesday, taking with it several poor neighbourhoods, trailers, cars, gas cylinders that exploded when crashing into bridges, houses, and huge tree trunks. The devastation is partly caused by the deforestation in the watershed in the hills above leading up to the 13,400ft Tacana volcano.
Julian Flavell, Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico

Most of Veracruz is under water, the port has neighbourhoods under water up to a meter and a half deep, in Mexico City it has been raining or dripping non-stop for almost 24 hours, the worst hit region is Chiapas were people have lost everything they had! Isn't it time we started to look after our planet as natural disasters are ever increasing? Think as to what you can do to live an environmentally cleaner life!
Mario M Felix Brosch, Mexico City, Mexico

We are now stranded in the town of Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. We arrived here on Sunday, amidst torrential rain, which we thought would pass. It has not stopped since, with complete devastation. We are unable to leave, as all the roads out of here are blocked by landslides. We have walked through the town today and seen the town utterly ravaged by the storms. The main river through the town has broken its banks and has washed away well over 200 houses, with countless people missing. All three bridges in the town have been completely destroyed and houses are still falling into the river as we speak. This is a situation which apparently is similar across central America, with hundreds killed already. The president has apparently sent food and aid to the area from Guatemala City, but this cannot get through the mountain passes either. I have no idea when we will be able to get out of here.
Simon McCurdy, Macclesfield, UK

The contrast between the coverage of Katrina and Rita, and of this latest storm Stan, is staggering. It is only a minor story in the news - and only after five days! The difference? It's not in the USA. What has happened to the BBC's balanced reporting?
David, Sheffield, England

An old friend of mine lives in one of the neighbourhoods in Escalon, San Salvador, where many of the unsteady houses were crushed by the avalanche. I saw photos of the area on one of the Salvadoran national press websites, and got in contact with some friends to see how she was. Mari, from that neighbourhood, was lucky enough to escape unharmed and her house amazingly remains standing. Now she is staying with the parents of some friends, but worries that her house will be robbed now there is no one there to guard it - reminiscent of the events of New Orleans.

I lived in El Salvador for a year from 2003-4, and know just how weak the houses in the poorer communities are - a mixture of corrugated iron, plastic, and often plastic sheets, held together with rope and, in the better houses, bricks and mortar. It's heartbreaking to see a nation which, for the most part, has nothing, fall further into distress. I remember the effect the big tremors had on those poorer communities - people just hoping that their houses wouldn't fall down. I hope to get out to El Salvador sometime next month to see my friends and help if and where I can. I have also talked to a friend in Guatemala City who says people are busy preparing food and clothing supplies to give to those who need them most now over in Guatemala. He says that it's surprising and nice to see that communities have just rallied together at this time.
Chris Gibbons, London, UK





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