Guatemala girds for first Pacific storm of season

Guatemalan authorities stepped up preparations on Saturday ahead of the anticipated arrival of the first named storm of the Pacific hurricane season.

Guatemala girds for first Pacific storm of season

Guatemalan authorities stepped up preparations on Saturday ahead of the anticipated arrival of the first named storm of the Pacific hurricane season, expected to bring heavy flooding to some areas.

Emergency workers reported rivers were already swelling due to heavy rains and warned flooding could be worse than usual due to ash from the erupting Pacaya volcano south of the capital that has blocked drainage systems.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said a tropical depression off the west coast of the Central American nation would likely bring extremely heavy rainfall across Guatemala, southern Mexico and El Salvador.

Tropical storm warnings were posted for the Pacific coast from Boca de Pijijiapan in southern Mexico to the El Salvador-Honduras border.

The depression was expected to reach tropical storm strength later on Saturday, the NHC said.

Some 2,000 people have already been evacuated from their homes due to the eruption of Pacaya, located 25 miles (40 km) south of Guatemala City. At least one death has been blamed on the eruption and the country's main international airport has been shut.

The volcano, which erupted on Thursday, was still active but the intensity of its activity appeared to be diminishing, a civil defense official said.

Pacaya has been active since the 1960s but has not ejected rocks and ash since 1998.

The volcano is close to some of Guatemala's most prized coffee plantations but the national coffee association, Anacafe, had no immediate reports of serious damage to crops.

Coffee workers said on Friday the rain from the storm was helping to clean ash off the trees and were optimistic crop damage would be minimal.

Reuters

Last Mod: 29 Mayıs 2010, 17:31
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