The death toll from rains and mudslides across Central America rose on Sunday to at least 80, with El Salvador suffering the most fatalities at 32 and poor weather due to continue, officials said.
International highways have been washed out, villages isolated and thousands of families have lost homes and crops in a region that the UN has classified as one of the most affected by climate change.
Hardest hit were El Salvador, with at least 32 dead after five days of intense rains unleashed by a stubbornly persistent tropical depression, and Guatemala, where 28 people were reported dead and two others were missing.
Salvadorean President Mauricio Funes said in a message to the nation that El Salvador was “really being put to the test,” adding that more than 20,000 people had been evacuated and entire communities had been cut off because of impassable roads.
The government launched an appeal for international humanitarian aid, with the rains forecast to continue through yesterday. Spain responded by sending 20 tonnes of aid materials, including personal hygiene kits and tents.
In Ciudad Arce, 40km west of the capital, a landslide swept away five houses, killing at least nine people, officials said.
Jorge Melendez, the head of the country’s civil protection agency, said most of the deaths in El Salvador were caused by mudslides.
Meanwhile, Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom declared a “state of calamity” after the death toll there reached 28 after five days of heavy rains.
Forecasters said rains generated by a low pressure system would not let up for at least another day.
In Honduras, authorities raised the death toll to 12 after a night of unrelenting rains that turned creek beds into raging torrents in the populous mountain valley that is home to the capital Tegucigalpa.
Honduran President Porfirio Lobo declared a state of emergency in the southern part of the country and dispatched medical teams to the worst-affected areas.
In Nicaragua, the civil defense agency ordered the evacuation of the slopes of the Casita volcano, which experienced deadly landslides in 1998 after the passage of Hurricane Mitch.
Nicaraguan first lady Rosario Murillo, who is also the government spokeswoman, said eight people have been killed in the country and more than 25,000 affected by the rains.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference