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El Salvador Floods Force Evacuations

September 13, 1999

SAN CARLOS LEMPA, El Salvador (AP) _ Police, soldiers and rescue teams evacuated hundreds of families Sunday from communities threatened by flooding along El Salvador’s Lempa River.

Intense rains that began Friday killed at least one person, flooded the homes of some 5,000 people and caused damage in five of El Salvador’s 14 provinces, Red Cross and Salvadoran emergency officials said.

The greatest impact was felt in the lower Lempa region, home to about 15 communities lying along the river, which crosses central El Salvador.

The river rose about a yard, said Agustina Rosales, 51, who was resting in a shelter set up in a school in San Carlos Lempa, 60 miles southeast of San Salvador, the capital.

``With the help of army trucks they got us out of there,″ Rosales said.

The school served as the temporary home for some 400 people evacuated from the nearby town of Santa Marta, which was completely flooded Saturday night.

Red Cross spokesman Carlos Lopez Mendoza said some 5,000 people had been affected by the flooding. An elderly man died Sunday when rains caused a wall to collapse on his small home in Fosa, north of the capital, he said.

Erick Aragon, a member of the National Emergency Committee, said 300 people were evacuated from at least eight communities in the central province of San Vicente.

At least two towns had been left isolated by the intense rains, he said.

Some 100 families were evacuated from homes near the overflowing Paz River, which divides El Salvador from Guatemala.

The affected areas also suffered severe flooding last year during Hurricane Mitch, which killed more than 9,000 people across Central American and destroyed tens of thousands of homes.

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