Floods, mudslides kill scores in El Salvador

12:42, 09 November 2009
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At least 124 people...

At least 124 people have died and dozens are missing after heavy rains triggered flooding and mudslides that buried communities and left a swath of destruction in El Salvador, officials said, according to CNN.

President Mauricio Funes declared a national emergency and described the loss as incalculable. About 7,000 people lost homes in the disaster on Sunday, officials said.

Authorities said the death toll is expected to rise as rescuers scramble to reach regions where roads have been washed away.

In some of the hardest-hit areas, such as the capital, San Salvador, roads are completely gone, said Laura Mata of World Vision.

"You would never imagine there were road systems there ... huge rocks, mud, water everywhere," she said. "People have lost complete families."

Landslides on the side of a volcano swallowed up a village in Verapaz, Mata said.

Residents in affected areas gingerly climbed over boulders as rescue crews waded through muddy waters, some carrying young children. Downed homes, trees and electricity poles, and mountains of mud, covered streets.

The heavy rains in the impoverished central American nation were unrelated to Hurricane Ida, as reported earlier. A low-pressure system out of the Pacific triggered the disaster, said Robby Berg of the National Hurricane Center.

Ida brushed past the region as a tropical storm earlier. It moved into the southern Gulf of Mexico, prompting a state of emergency in Louisiana and a hurricane warning along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Ida, a Category 2 hurricane, is headed north-northwest toward the Gulf Coast, forecasters said early Monday. It is expected to weaken as it moves north.

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