El Salvador

Heavy rainfall in El Salvador kills 39

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Floods and landslides displace thousands in departments of La Libertad and Ahuachapán.

More than 5,000 people fled their homes this week after heavy rains in central and western El Salvador caused floods and landslides. Newspaper articles say that 39 people have died, including 22 of who were in a bus swept away while crossing the Palmarcito River in Sonsanate department.

Oxfam staff members in El Salvador report that 2,500 people were evacuated in the La Libertad department, where three people died in a rock slide in Comasagua. The Comandos de Salvamento, an Oxfam partner organization skilled in rescue operations, is recovering bodies in the affected areas.

In the department of Ahuachapán, rock slides killed four people in Apaneca. The body of one of the victims, a five-year-old girl, is still missing. The Municipal Emergency Committee of Apaneca reported that 47 houses were destroyed, 110 houses were damaged, and the municipal authorities declared the small village uninhabitable.

Six hundred people, 40 percent of them children, are currently in temporary shelters in Ahuachapán.

Oxfam is funding emergency assistance by the Salvadoran Association for Humanitarian Assistance (PROVIDA) and the Permanent Committee for Risk Management (MPGR) in Ahuachapán, which will include $5,000 for:

- 20 portable latrines at 4 temporary shelters

- 100 pounds of chlorine tablets to treat and purify drinking water in the shelters

- Medicine for stomach and respiratory ailments, and psychological care for displaced families traumatized by rock slides

- Personal hygiene kits for 606 people in temporary shelters

- Food

- Portable lanterns and lamps for the shelters

Oxfam America's coordinator of humanitarian response Oscar Andrade traveled to the area affected by the rains. "Although the emergency is concentrated in a relatively small area, the damages to homes and livelihoods are substantial," he explained in a report Thursday. "Oxfam America will continue to monitor the situation, especially the rehabilitation phase, because the current situation highlights the vulnerability of poor populations in the country."