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First Named Storm of Hurricane Season Hits Central America

Guatemala hit hardest as that country and Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras declare a state of emergency in response to conditions such as widespread flooding, mudslides and the opening of large sinkholes.

Agatha, the first named storm of the 2010 East Pacific hurricane season was declared on Saturday May 29, according to a report from catastrophe modeling firm RMS (Newark, Calif.). Agatha made landfall as a tropical storm along the border of Mexico and Guatemala at 22:40 UTC.

Agathat was associated with torrential rainfall, which triggered flash flooding and landslides within Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and southern Mexico. A state of emergency was declared in parts of all four countries over the weekend. Initial reports of death tolls vary from 80 to 125, with Guatemala's Emergency Management Agency reporting a national death toll of 90 on Monday, May 31, according to RMS.

The National Hurricane Center reported that Agatha brought rainfall accumulations of 10 to 20 inches to the western regions of Guatemala, with isolated accumulations of 30 inches. Local media reports indicate that 94,000 people were evacuated across the country, RMS reports. Mudslides have been reported across the region, where a mudslide devastated an entire neighbourhood in the Guatemalan town of San Antonio Palopo, 90 miles southeast of the capital. Closer to the capital a highway bridge was swept away in flood waters, while in Guatemala City itself sinkholes have opened up – in the northern part of the capital a sinkhole extending over a street intersection opened up.

Guatemala’s main airport has been closed, although closure here has been attributed in the main to volcanic ash as oppose to the Agatha. Of particular economic concern in Guatemala (and in El Salvador) is the condition of the coffee crop which was affected by particularly heavy rain.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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