Floods kill 113 after storm batters Central America

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The Independent US

Stunned victims of Tropical Storm Agatha wept by destroyed homes and rescue crews dug bodies out of mud in Guatemala yesterday after torrential rain killed at least 113 people across Central America. People caked in dirt searched for their loved ones as the stench of mud and sewage from flooded drains filled the air of towns outside Guatemala City and emergency workers urged survivors to leave ruined houses and go to shelters.

The first named storm of the 2010 Pacific hurricane season, Agatha slammed into Guatemala on Saturday, dumping more than 3ft of rain in the west of the country and in neighbouring El Salvador, and sparking worries about damage to the coffee crop in both countries.

"I've got no one to help me. I watched the water take everything," said Carlota Ramos in the town of Amatitlan near the Guatemalan capital, crying outside her house which was almost completely swamped by mud.

More than 50 people were still missing in Guatemala yesterday, and exhausted rescue workers hauled away stones and tree trunks from crushed houses as they fought to reach the wounded. "We just have shovels and picks," said a firefighter, Mario Cruz, who had been working almost nonstop since Friday night. Some helicopters ferried tents and medical supplies to towns on Guatemala's Pacific coast and the government was due to open its doors to international aid yesterday.

More than 94,000 people have been evacuated as the storm buried homes under mud, swept away a highway bridge near Guatemala City and opened up sinkholes in the capital.

The head of emergency services, Alejandro Maldonado, said at least 92 people had died in Guatemala, and 54 others were missing. Nine people were killed in El Salvador and 12 in Honduras.