Thousands killed and evacuated due to rain in El Salvador

A Salvadoran family spent the night in a boat after the collapse of an earthen dam destroyed their home and heavy rains threatened more landslides, joining more than 3,800 people who had to evacuate due to rains that have battered El Salvador since last week. Which left at least 19 dead and two missing.

Landslides and floods are the main threats faced by Salvadorans due to heavy rains, in a country that is experiencing a national emergency due to rainfall that mainly affects the coast and rural areas of the country.

One such area is Joya Grande, in downtown Santiago Texacuangos.

“We are trying to organize with the community to try to avoid disasters, because we have a river and mountains surrounding us,” Ronald Fuentes, from the local Civil Protection Commission, told EFE.

He said that they had organized the evacuation of their neighbors due to the possible landslides they had experienced that had occurred in recent days.

He explained that among those affected was a family consisting of two adults and three children who live near Central Lake Ilopango.

His house was buried after an earthen dam or dam to contain the water collapsed. Dedicated to fishing and tourism, they were forced to spend the night in a small boat anchored on the shore of the lake due to the risk of further landslides.

“Every year it gets worse (…), every winter there is no sleep here, if there is heavy rain, people become active in case of any emergency,” and “here it is rare to find a house that is not affected,” Fuentes said, “because of the rain.” “Because if it wasn’t for the river to flood, it would be a disaster.”

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He commented that about 3,000 people live in this sector alone who depend on tourism, agriculture, and fishing, and every rainy season they face risks that become more severe when “there is no (governmental) institution or mayor’s office in the area.” “In the office, it’s practically just the community here.”

At least 19 dead and thousands evacuated

Official figures indicate that at least 19 people have died so far, including six minors. Among them were two girls who died and were buried after a landslide in the central town of Soyabango.

In addition, two people were missing and 11 were injured, while the number of people evacuated reached 3,861, including 1,857 minors.

In this week of rain, 26 rivers overflowed, 248 landslides occurred, 23 urban floods occurred, and 183 homes were damaged.

Historically, El Salvador is affected by weather phenomena that cause deaths every rainy season, the most powerful of which are Hurricane Mitch (1998) and the November 2009 rains.

Mitch left 240 dead and 84,005 injured in its wake, while the storms of November 7 and 8, 2009, left 199 people dead.

Luis Gonzalez said 89% of the land is at risk, which “puts 95% of the population at risk and almost anything can happen to us. Almost anything can happen to us such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, droughts and hurricanes.” From the Salvadoran Environmental Unit (UNES).

Danger zones “will always remain danger zones,” summed up Director General of Civil Protection Luis Amaya.

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