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83 dead in flooding, landslides in Central America

GUATEMALA CITY - At least 83 people have been killed in flooding and landslides associated with the region's first tropical storm of the year, Central American authorities say.

Guatemala's disaster relief spokesman said 73 people have been killed as a result of torrential rains brought by Agatha, which slammed into the region Saturday as a tropical storm.

In El Salvador, President Maruricio Funes said nine people are dead. Honduras reported one fatality.

Agatha was dissipating over the mountains of western Guatemala a day after it made landfall near the border with Mexico with 45-mph winds. Torrential rains that pounded southern Mexico and Guatemala eased somewhat as rivers continued to rise and word came from isolated areas of more deaths in landslides.

Although no longer even a tropical depression, Agatha still poses trouble for the region: Remnants of the storm were expected to deliver 10 to 20 inches of rain over southeastern Mexico, Guatemala and parts of El Salvador, creating the possibility of "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said in an advisory.

As of yesterday afternoon, 75,000 people in Guatemala had been evacuated, many to shelters. At least 3,500 homes had major damage.

The mayor of San Antonio Palopó reported 13 deaths and seven people missing after a landslide tore through the community on the steep banks of Lake Atitlán, a tourist attraction 40 miles east of Guatemala City. Andres Cumez said the slide plowed through 30 homes.

Rescuers reported at least 14 other deaths: eight in two landslides in the Guatemala City area, and six in landslides in the northeastern towns of Quiché and Totonicapán.

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