91 Dead in El Salvador Flooding From Ida

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) -- Three days of heavy rains in El Salvador touched off floods and slides that have killed at least 91 people, the government said Sunday.

Dozens are still missing, and about 7,000 are in shelters, Interior Minister Humberto Centeno told a news conference.

Authorities had to use helicopters to reach some of the most severely affected townships, Centeno added.

In the capital of San Salvador, authorities reported 61 dead including a family of four - two adults and two children - who were killed when a mudslide buried their home Sunday morning, Red Cross spokesman Carlos Lopez Mendoza reported.

Central San Vicente province was also hit hard, with 23 killed there.

The rest died in other parts of the country, Vice Interior Minister Ernesto Zelayandia told The Associated Press. Most of the victims were buried by slides or carried away by raging rivers.

"We have been through disaster zones, including a fly-over of the area of Verapaz (in San Vicente)," Centeno said. "It is a real tragedy there," with at least 60 people unaccounted for, he said.

Centeno said it has been impossible to reach many of the affected areas because of damage to roads.

Red Cross spokesman Carlos Lopez said a river in Verapaz overflowed its banks and swamped 300 homes.

The rains unleashed massive rock slides from the Chichontepec volcano that buried several houses, Verapaz Mayor Antonio Cerritos told Radio Nacional.

Dave Roberts, a Navy hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, said Hurricane Ida's presence in the western Caribbean may have played a role in drawing a Pacific low-pressure system toward El Salvador, causing the rains.

He added, however, that "if there were deaths associated with this rainfall amount in El Salvador, I would not link it to Ida."

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