73 killed in Guatemala tropical storm

Guatemala City, May 31 (IANS) At least 73 people were killed after a tropical storm hit the Pacific coast of Guatemala, Officials said.

The toll caused by the storm has risen to 73, the disaster relief authority spokesman David de Leon said Sunday.

Rescuers reported deaths in several parts of the country, including San Andres Palopo town and northern Guatemala City, Xinhua reported.

Deaths were also reported in El Salvador and Honduras.

Agatha made landfall Saturday at Tecun Uman city, near the border with Mexico, affecting the provinces of San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Solola, Chimaltenango, Quiche and Totonicapan. The Guatemalan capital is also affected.

More than 74,000 people have been evacuated from the affected areas.

The storm weakened Sunday, but continues to bring heavy rains along the Pacific coast. The stormy weather is expected to continue for the next five days.

The weather service said downgrading of Agatha to a tropical depression ‘means the winds are gradually lessening in velocity’, but noted, ‘heavy to moderate rains will continue’.

Meanwhile, flights to Guatemala have been diverted to the Comalapa airport in El Salvador, from where the passengers will be transported by road to the Guatemalan capital.

President Alvaro Colom has appealed for help from the international community.