October 16, 2011 / 9:16 PM / 8 years ago

Death toll from rain in Central America rises to 74

Aerial view of the Samala river swollen by heavy rains and the Castillo Armas bridge undergoing repair work, in the south of Guatemala, October 15, 2011. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - The death toll from torrential rains in Central America over the past week has jumped to 74 over the past 24 hours, with a further 20 lives lost in El Salvador, authorities said on Sunday.

A tropical depression that swept in from the Pacific on Wednesday caused mudslides, chaos on roads and forced thousands of people to abandon their homes in the chain of countries between Mexico and South America.

On Saturday, the death toll stood at 45 in the region, home to some of the poorest countries in the Americas. El Salvador was the worst affected overnight, with accidents pushing up the total number of victims there to 27.

“The majority of these people were killed by mudslides in their homes,” local emergency services official Jorge Melendez told reporters at a news conference.

Guatemala also reported more dead, bringing its death toll to 28, while the total rose to 12 in Honduras. At least seven people have also died in Nicaragua. No deaths were reported in Costa Rica, though dozens of families have been evacuated.

Rain was still falling in parts of the region. The weather has also hit southeastern Mexico, where swollen rivers have affected thousands of people, notably in Tabasco state.

At least four people died in Mexico earlier in the week when Category Two Hurricane Jova struck from the Pacific, forcing the country’s busiest port to close.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria in San Salvador, Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Mike McDonald in Guatemala City, Ivan Castro in Managua and Alex Leff in San Jose

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