Heavy rains devastate Guatemala

A state of emergency has been declared
in Guatemala, where days of heavy rain have caused widespread flooding and

At least 20 people have been killed,
including at least 10 who died when a bus was engulfed by a mudslide.

President Alvaro Colom said the rains
had undone all the reconstruction work completed since Tropical Storm Agatha,
which killed 165 people in May.

He has asked congress to approve
emergency funds for rebuilding.

Days of heavy rains have saturated
Guatemala’s mountainous terrain, causing hillsides to collapse suddenly and
without warning.

The worst landslide buried a packed bus
as it travelled on the main Inter-American highway, west of the capital
Guatemala City.

At least 10 people were killed, and
emergency workers had to dig through thick mud to rescue 20 others from the

In the western region of Quetzaltenango,
a family of four died when their home was buried by a mudslide.

At least four other deaths have been
reported around the country. About 4,000 people have been evacuated from their
houses, reports said.

More than 100km (65 miles) of the
Inter-American highway has been closed to all traffic, and many other roads
have been blocked.

A bridge that was replaced after being
destroyed by Tropical Storm Agatha has again been smashed by floods, cutting
the main route to the south-west of the country.

President Colom said the rains had
“destroyed all the work that has been done in the last few weeks” and
caused damage estimated at up to half a billion dollars (£330m).

He said he would also propose a special
tax to help fund reconstruction.

Guatemala’s national meteorological
service forecast that the rains would continue for another 48 hours.

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