SAN SALVADOR (EFE) – Salvadoran President Tony Saca declared a national emergency Monday to cope with the effects of ongoing heavy rains of Tropical Storm Stan, which has claimed dozens of lives in Central America this week.The rains sparked evacuations in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.The head of El Salvador’s National Emergency Committee, Mauricio Ferrer, said Monday that so far 23 persons, among them several children, have been killed by mudslides that have buried homes in several parts of the country, most of them in the central province of La Libertad.Ferrer added that in view of the fact that some parts of the capital have experienced mudslides during and after heavy rains in the past, he was recommending that the residents of those neighborhoods evacuate.El Salvador’s Minister of the Interior, Rene Figueroa, told reporters that authorities had already evacuated some 7,000 people because of the rains, while an additional 6,000 residents were removed from the environs of the Santa Ana Volcano when it erupted Saturday, killing two people.Fearing additional discharges from the volcano, which is located 50 kilometers west of the capital, the Salvadoran government ordered people to stay at least 4,000 meters from the crater.Schools throughout El Salvador have been closed due to the disruptions caused by the flooding and the volcanic activity. Meanwhile, the rains that lashed Honduras over the past week took the lives of at least three children, left one soldier missing and caused assorted landslides and other damage in several parts of the country, authorities announced Sunday.The emergency commission announced that a 9-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy died Thursday in the town of Potrerillos in the western province of Lempira on the border with El Salvador, although it did not specify how they perished.A 2-year-old boy was killed in Tegucigalpa when his family’s house collapsed during torrential rains, burying him in mud and rubble.In addition, on Friday, Lt. Walter Mauricio Reyes disappeared in the town of Agua Dulce in the central province of Comayagua. The member of the 1st Engineers Battalion tried to drive across a ford of an overflowing river but was swept away. Reyes’ vehicle was found on Saturday, but rescue workers so far have not reported locating the officer.Authorities said that at least eight landslides occurred in central Honduras on Saturday as a result of the heavy rains, the largest of these about 115 kilometers north of the capital in Comayagua province.The landslide blocked traffic between Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, the country’s two most important cities.
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