GUATEMALA CITY – Torrential rains brought by the first tropical storm of the 2010 season pounded Central America and southern Mexico, triggering deadly landslides. The death toll stood at 15 Sunday but authorities said the number could rise.
Tropical Storm Agatha made landfall near the border of Guatemala and Mexico on Saturday with wind speeds of up to 45 mph (75 kph), then weakened into a tropical depression before dissipating over the mountains of western Guatemala.
Although no longer even a tropical depression, Agatha still posed trouble for the region: Remnants of the storm were expected to deliver 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 centimeters) of rain over southeastern Mexico, Guatemala and parts of El Salvador, creating the possibility of “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said in an advisory Sunday.
Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom said Saturday night that the rivers in the country’s south were flooding or close to it.
Colom said 4.3 inches (10.8 centimeters) of rain had fallen in Guatemala City’s valley in 12 hours, the most since 1949.
As of Saturday night, 4,300 people were in shelters and authorities said the number could rise as figures come in from around the country.
A three-story building in northern Guatemala City fell into a sinkhole but there were no reports of victims.