Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Unceasing rains

The flooding rains are expected to continue for another 48 hours. As much as 35 centimeters (14 inches) has fallen in coastal areas since Saturday. Bloomberg reports the widespread impact of the storms:

Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- El Salvador is sheltering thousands of people in temporary refuges amid flooding and landslides brought on by Hurricane Stan and a volcanic eruption in the west of the Central American nation.

At least 16,688 people are in shelters from Santa Ana by the active Llamatepec volcano in the west, through central areas affected by floods and landslides, to La Union in the east, the country's National Emergencies Committee said on its Web site.

Rains brought on by the storm, which hit Mexico yesterday, triggered landslides and flooding across El Salvador since the beginning of the month, killing 38 people and prompting officials to declare a second ``red alert,'' the maximum state of emergency, after a first was imposed on Oct. 1 when Llamatepec began to spew ash and gases, damaging coffee plantations.

``The rain we've had has been in industrial quantities,'' Salvadorian President Antonio Saca said yesterday, according to the government Web site. ``We're having to fight two very difficult natural phenomena; this storm and the volcano.''

As much as 35 centimeters (14 inches) of rain has fallen over coastal areas since Oct. 1, exceeding the normal total for the whole of the month, according to a bulletin posted yesterday on El Salvador's National Service of Territorial Studies.

`Critical' Levels

``These rainfall conditions are keeping most of the rivers in the country at critical levels,'' the service said. ``Waters will breach river banks and coastal areas will continue to flood for the next 48 to 72 hours.''

Flooding was reported in at least 28 areas and at least 30 rock falls and landslides have occurred across the country since the rains began, according to the emergencies committee. Mudslips are still a risk in towns and cities nationwide, including in the capital San Salvador, the committee said.

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