Heavy rains, landslides kill at least 17 in Guatemala


People gather around a bus buried in a landslide on the Inter-American highway, outside of the Guatemalan capital Tecpan, September 4. – PressTV.ir

(CNN)

by the CNN Wire Staff  5 September 2010 Updated 0510 GMT (1310 HKT)

— At least a dozen people were killed when a mudslide buried a bus on a Guatemalan highway Saturday, authorities said.

Heavy rains in the past day have caused landslides across Guatemala, according to a statement posted on the government’s website. At least 17 people have been killed and at least 20 have been injured during the storm.

President Alvaro Colom declared a national emergency Saturday, the statement said.

He told reporters that authorities closed parts of the Inter-American highway after rains washed out some of the road.

Thousands of homes, in addition to infrastructure and fields of crops, were also damaged by the heavy rains, Colom said.

The torrential downpours come several months after more than 150 people died when Tropical Storm Agatha hit Guatemala in May.

Destruction from that storm was widespread throughout the nation, with mudslides destroying homes and buildings and burying some victims. At least nine rivers had dramatically higher levels and 13 bridges collapsed, Guatemala’s emergency services agency said.

The May downpours created a sinkhole the size of a street intersection in northern Guatemala City. Residents told CNN that a three-story building and a house fell into the hole.