Hurricane Stan's destructive trail in Central America

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Hurricane Stan's destructive trail in Central America

Post by admin » Sat Oct 08, 2005 7:45 am

Town divided and destroyed by Stan
By Claire Marshall
BBC News, Tapachula, southern Mexico

A week ago, the river which passes through this southern Mexico border town, flowed at a calm and constant pace.
Then came Hurricane Stan.

It turned this river into a violent, destructive wall of water, that tore the town in two. Families have been split apart.

A crowd stands beside a precipice that used to be a railway bridge. The bent and twisted tracks skew down towards the brown raging torrent.

As the rain continues to fall, the people look out towards the other bank of the river, where the remains of houses are being battered by the floodwaters.

Mercedes Hipolito Ochoa has tears streaming down her face.

She says that at least 15 members of her family are trapped on the other side. They include six
children, including a baby.

"They are stuck over there," she says, pointing with one hand, and wiping her face with the other.

"Please, please someone do something."

No livelihood

Further up the river, 24-year-old Mario Alberto gestures towards the surging waters. His house used to be there.

"The river took everything - we don't have anything left. The entire community has gone. We used to live by the curve of the river. We couldn't save anything.
"They didn't warn us - and we are looking at the consequences right now".

He used to play in a band, but with his instruments washed away, he has no livelihood.

Cut off

Standing near him is an elderly woman, clutching the hand of a small boy. She also looks out towards the obliterated communities, with moisture in her eyes.

"Thanks to god, we got out," she says. "But we sacrificed so much to build our house, and now it's all gone. We're very sad because some of our neighbours a
re still over there - they stayed to help people and now they're trapped."

Like many others across the region, the town of Tapachula is completely isolated.

All of the bridges leading out have been destroyed by the river. The only way in or out is by air.

Dozens of goods lorries bound for the capital stand idly under the near-constant drizzle.

The weather is still too bad for a sustained air rescue and recovery operation to get underway.

Tens of thousands of people are homeless. They are mostly poor, and have little or no means of re-building their wrecked lives.

Here, one of the most deadly hurricane seasons on record has created a lasting misery.

Story from BBC NEWS: ... 321408.stm

Published: 2005/10/08 01:30:34 GMT


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Hundreds missing after Stan storm

Post by admin » Sat Oct 08, 2005 10:12 am

Hundreds missing after Stan storm

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

s 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.

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.

"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.

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 floo
ding, in some communities mudslides; there is no access by road, no telephone communication."

Story from BBC NEWS: ... 319640.stm

Published: 2005/10/08 04:21:06 GMT


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