Rains from tropical storm Amanda left at least 17 dead and seven missing while causing extensive damage across El Salvador and Guatemala, pushing thousands of people into shelters amid the coronavirus pandemic.
EL Salvador Interior Minister Mario Duran said Monday some 7,000 people were scattered across 154 shelters. He said a quarter of the rain that the country normally receives in a year fell in 70 hours.
That set off landslides and flooding, especially in the western part of the country. A day earlier officials had said at least 900 homes had been damaged.
President Nayib Bukele visited one of the most affected communities on the outskirts of San Salvador. Some 50 families lost their homes and Bukele said the government would give them $10,000 US to rebuild.
One whose home was damaged was Maria Torres.
“We’ve never experienced this,” she said. “The rain was so strong and suddenly the water entered the homes and we just saw how they fell.”
The legislative assembly approved the government’s use of a $389 million US loan from the International Monetary Fund to deal with the pandemic and the storm’s impact.
El Salvador reports more than 2,500 infections and 46 deaths.
In Guatemala, a nine-year-old boy was swept away by a river and drowned and another person was killed when a home collapsed, said David de Leon, spokesperson for the national disaster agency.
Amanda pounded El Salvador with rain for days before moving ashore as a tropical storm on Sunday and pushing across Guatemala. It quickly dissipated, but the U.S. National Hurricane Center has said its remnants might form another storm in the Gulf of Mexico in coming days.