By Rhina Guidos
WASHINGTON — Authorities in Central America feared the death toll would rise after the weather system known as Julia left much of the region buried in mud or covered in flooding in early October.
Five members of El Salvador’s armed forces are among 28 reported deaths linked to Julia as of early October 11, but the death toll is expected to rise. The country’s environment secretary said in late October 10 that El Salvador had received the equivalent of about 15% of its annual rainfall in one day. Catholic churches opened their doors there to those seeking shelter from the storm.
Nicaragua, where Julia made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on October 9, reported one death, although many doubt the government’s account. The online news site Divergentes said social media reported at least two deaths.
Authorities in El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, however, reported widespread landslides, flash floods, overflowing rivers and thousands of people in shelters waiting for the system to dissipate as it moves downhill. north.
Guatemala reported houses destroyed and roads and bridges swept away by Julia as authorities raced to search for people trapped under fallen trees and structures. Five soldiers in El Salvador, who were monitoring a community for criminal activity, died when a wall of a house collapsed and buried them, one of the national newspapers reported.
Guatemalan authorities have sounded the alarm over what crop damage could do to already rising prices of staple foods such as beans, coffee and plantains.
In Nicaragua, where the government reported property damage, morning mass at the cathedral in the capital of Managua continued as planned hours before landing as Catholics prayed for Mary’s intercession to protect the politically troubled nation from the natural disaster.
Before Julia headed north into Central America, she crossed Venezuela, causing a landslide that left at least 25 dead and 50 missing, as authorities rushed to dig up victims buried in the mud.