Heavy rains blamed in deaths of least 25 Guatemalans

News and Press Release
Originally published
Guatemala City, Jun 15, 2000 (EFE via COMTEX) -- Since the onset of Guatemala's rainy season six weeks ago, heavy rains have left more than 2,600 people homeless and have been blamed in at least 25 deaths, according to the Red Cross and other rescue agencies.
Guatemala's national disaster agency told EFE Thursday that the rainy season this year has left 16 people dead since early May, but the Red Cross and fire departments placed the death toll at 25.

The intensity of the rainfall prompted Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo to declare a 30-day "state of public disaster" on June 6 for the entire country.

To make matters worse, a looming tropical wave is expected to effect the provinces of Guatemala, Chiquimula, Chimaltenango, Solola, Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, Quiche and the Caribbean coast, the national weather service predicted.

The Office of the National Coordinator for the Reduction of Disasters (CONRED) has issued a yellow alert warning all Guatemalans of the potential for danger posed by the rains.

According to CONRED official figures, the rains have forced the evacuation of 668 people and left another 1,970 persons homeless, while killing 16 and injuring another three individuals.

Two bridges have collapsed, one in Villalobos along a main access route into the Guatemalan capital.

The fallen bridge has caused serious traffic jams as motorists have had to seek alternative ways to either exit or enter Guatemala City.