New tropical storm forming in rain-soaked Central America   2011-10-23 11:35:37 FeedbackPrintRSS

MEXICO CITY, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- A new tropical storm was forming on Saturday in Central America, where 11 days of non-stop torrential rains had already affected 2 million people.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the latest tropical depression was expected to dump at least 48 hours of rain over Central America and hit Honduras and Nicaragua particularly hard.

"This system could still become a tropical depression before it interacts with Central America during the next few days," the Miami-based center said.

The latest storm system came on the heels of five different tropical storms, which had caused hundreds of mudslides, flash floods and massive flooding.

The death toll rose to 132 on Saturday after 14 more bodies were retrieved from rivers and ruins of collapsed infrastructure.

Guatemala saw the highest death toll of 39 people, followed by El Salvador with 34 and Honduras with 28, according to figures released by disaster prevention authorities in the countries.

Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes appealed for immediate help from the international community, saying the ongoing emergency is one of the worst disasters ever in Central America.

"The international community still does not have a clear dimension of the magnitude of this disaster and we are asking the world to show solidarity with us," Funes said in a live television broadcast.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) expressed concern about both the immediate and long-term impact on food security in the region amid rising food prices on the international market.

The WFP is distributing emergency food rations to over 70,000 people in the four countries most severely affected. In Guatemala alone, the UN agency is handing out 10 tons of high energy biscuits, a WFP spokesman told Xinhua.

According to authorities, some 2 million people in Central America have been affected by the disasters, including at least 1 million in El Salvador and 550,000 in Guatemala. Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica as well as the North American country of Mexico were also hit hard.

Many parts of these countries remained inaccessible as landslides blocked roads and bridges, and aerial access continued to be difficult because of bad weather, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report.

A team of experts from the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination is carrying out a comprehensive evaluation of needs in the worst-hit parts of the region, said the report.

More than 120,000 people have now been evacuated across the region. In El Salvador alone, nearly 60,000 people were moved to safe places. In Guatemala, about 40,000 people had to leave their homes.

Humanitarian aid is pouring into the region from a number of countries including Germany, Japan, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, Spain and the United States.

Editor: Yamei Wang
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