El Salvador

El Salvador Declares Red Alert For Heavy Rains

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (Reuters) - El Salvador Tuesday declared a red alert state of emergency as heavy rains continued to pummel the Central American country and up to 2,500 people were evacuated from flood-threatened homes.

''We have preventively declared a red alert. We can handle the situation but the amount of water that is falling means the situation could get complicated,'' said Mauricio Ferrer, head of the National Emergency Committee.

A red alert is the highest state of emergency, under which Red Cross workers, fire services and the army are mobilized to deal with potential disasters and refuges are opened.

Areas threatened by heavy rain that has been falling for more than a week include Bajo Lempa to the east and Ahuachapan in the west, as well as southern suburbs of the capital San Salvador. Some of the areas have barely had time to recover from the devastation left last October by Hurricane Mitch.

The torrential rains have already claimed six lives and forced 2,500 people from their homes, Salvadoran officials said.

In Honduras to the northeast of El Salvador, authorities said the number of people evacuated from their homes because of the rains now amounted to 7,683 while 20 people had died since Sept. 18 after another four drowned in the past 24 hours.

Guatemala has also been suffering from heavy rainfall in the past 10 days.

The three Central American countries were battered just under a year ago by Hurricane Mitch, one of the strongest Atlantic storms this century which killed around 10,000 people throughout the region.

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