Rain from Tropical Storm Amanda has left at least 17 people dead and seven missing while causing extensive damage across El Salvador and Guatemala that pushed thousands of people into shelters amid the coronavirus pandemic.
El Salvador interior minister Mario Duran said 7,000 people were scattered across 154 shelters, after a quarter of the rain that the country normally receives in a year fell in 70 hours.
That set off landslides and flooding, especially in the western part of the country. A day earlier officials had said at least 900 homes had been damaged.
President Nayib Bukele visited one of the most affected communities on the outskirts of San Salvador. Some 50 families lost their homes and Mr Bukele said the government would give them funding to rebuild.
One woman whose home was damaged, Maria Torres, said: “We’ve never experienced this. The rain was so strong and suddenly the water entered the homes and we just saw how they fell.”
The Legislative Assembly approved the government’s use of a 389 million dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund to deal with the pandemic and the storm’s impact.
El Salvador reports more than 2,500 infections and 46 deaths from Covid-19.
In Guatemala, a nine-year-old boy was swept away by a river and drowned and another person was killed when a home collapsed, said David de Leon, spokesman for the national disaster agency.
Amanda pounded El Salvador with rain for days before moving ashore as a tropical storm on Sunday and pushing across Guatemala.
It quickly dissipated, but the US National Hurricane Centre said on Monday afternoon that its remnants had formed into a tropical depression in the Bay of Campeche off Mexico’s gulf coast and was expected to move through the Gulf of Mexico in coming days.
Mexico issued a tropical storm warning from Campeche west to the port of Veracruz, expecting the depression to become a tropical storm on Monday night or Tuesday.