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At least 60 dead as heavy rain hits Central America

From Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs Editor
updated 7:07 PM EDT, Mon October 17, 2011
Honduran official Miguel Rodrigo Pastor checks landslide damage on the Pan-American highway near La Moramulca.
Honduran official Miguel Rodrigo Pastor checks landslide damage on the Pan-American highway near La Moramulca.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Evacuations are in effect in El Salvador, where 32 people are dead
  • 28 people are killed in Guatemala
  • More rain is forecast

(CNN) -- Heavy rain that has killed at least 60 people in Central America is not expected to let up soon, authorities said Monday.

El Salvador is the country hit hardest so far. The government has declared a state of emergency and ordered evacuations.

At least 32 people have died in El Salvador, including several children, according to the country's civil protection director. Some were swept away attempting to cross swollen rivers, while others were killed when the walls of their homes collapsed.

"The temporary evacuation of the population in some parts of the country is meant to avoid casualties caused by mudslides," said Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, who also ordered the cancellation of school classes.

In Guatemala, the death toll stands at 28 and close to 110,000 people have been affected by the rain.

President Alvaro Colom said that 15,000 more people are at risk and roughly 12,000 are in shelters, according to a statement on his website.

"We're praying to God for help," said Celida Yesenia Lopez, a Guatemalan flood survivor who lost her home. "It's very sad."

Honduras was similarly struck. The majority of the country's 18 departments are under alert and some 13,000 people have been affected.

Central America has been hammered by torrential rain since last week. Jova struck Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane late Tuesday. It weakened into a tropical storm and then a tropical depression as it moved over western Mexico. At the same time, Tropical Depression 12-E, which never reached tropical storm strength, brought the heavy rain to El Salvador and its neighbors.

More rain is forecast in the region.

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