PANAMA The good news is that this year s Semana Santa, or Holy Week, celebrations in Central America claimed 100 fewer lives than last year s vacation break. The bad news is that the numbers of victims were still very high.
According to compiled police statistics, at least 457 people died, and 1,733 were injured in Central America during last week s vacation break.
As usual, many of the deaths were alcohol related, drunk driving, violence and highway accidents due to excessive speeds and imprudence.
In El Salvador, the Central American country with the highest murder rate, 153 died and 1,195 were injured, mostly due to violence. Of that death toll, 106 victims were either shot or stabbed to death, while the others drowned or died in traffic accidents, according to police.
In Guatemala, there were 123 reported deaths, half of which were murders, and 350 injuries both decreases from 2005 statistics.
Nicaragua represented the country with the most dramatic decrease in Semana Santa deaths from the year prior. In 2006, there were 48 deaths and 88 injuries, down from 114 deaths the year before, according to the Red Cross in that country.
The decrease in deaths and violence in Nicaragua is in part attributed to a massive prevention campaign by police, which resulted in the confiscation of 874 fire arms during the week.
In Honduras, authorities registered 104 deaths 70% victims of violence and 49 injuries.
Costa Rican authorities registered 33 violent deaths an increase over last year s 30 and 51 injuries, most of which were attributed to highway accidents or drowning.
In Panama, only five deaths were registered due to highway accidents and drowning.