Friday, October 14, 2011

MEXICO CITY, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- The death toll in Mexico and Central America rose to 49 on Friday as tropical storms and hurricanes continued to hit the region.

The United Nations said as many as 100,000 people had been affected in Mexico and Central America, while the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned that more heavy rains would pound the region in the next 48 to 72 hours.

"Locally heavy rains are likely to continue over portions of the Pacific coast of southeastern Mexico and Central America, resulting in life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," said the NHC in its latest forecast for one of two storms currently moving over southern Mexico and Central America.

Civil protection authorities across Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica continued to be on maximum alert.

A second storm was forming over the eastern part of Mexico and Central America, and although neither of the two storms seem likely to become hurricanes, the NHC warned that the second storm will cause heavy rains,mudslides and flooding in Central America, Cuba and nearby islands.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega raised the alert for the country and broke off an election campaign to attend to what he declared a "national emergency" as the death toll in Nicaragua climbed to seven due to the rains.

Salvadorian President Mauricio Funes declared a state of national emergency over the massive flooding in coastal areas and initiated plans to evacuate 65,000 people from areas vulnerable to more flooding and landslides in the next three days.

The United Nations said it had activated its emergency and assessment teams in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

"Some 100,000 people in Mexico and Central America are facing flooding as Hurricane Jova and a tropical depression unleash torrential rains over the region," the United Nations news center said.

At least 12,000 people have been evacuated in the five countries worst hit by week-long torrential rains caused by Hurricane Jova, Hurricane Irwin, tropical depression 12-E and two other independent storm systems.

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