It Wasn’t the Volcano, It Was the Tropical Storm

The headlines were about Volcan Pacaya and the sinkhole, but the real misery was caused by tropical storm Agatha. Here are quotes from coverage of destruction around Lake Atitlan, with links to the stories in which they appear:

We walked to the road above the house just in time to see a wall of
mud . . . wash over the bridge and down into the river. The ground
shook with the force and it sounded like a freight train passing a few
feet from you.”

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"The couple's home escaped damage, but about one-quarter of their Mayan village of Santa Catarina Palopo was decimated.

"Where there were roads, it's a mountain of rubble and mud. When you
go through the villages, there's no more villages – it's all a big lump
of mud, rocks and dirt," he said.

Two people died in their village, but one-third of the population of
neighbouring San Antonio, five kilometres away, was wiped out.

"I have an American friend in that village and while the storm was happening, he called me in a panic," Mr Seroussi said.

"The conversation was helpless. He could see people dying with his own eyes."

But Mr Seroussi and his British-born wife, Marcelle, were trying to stay calm.

"I've never in my life heard anything like that storm," he said.

"The noise of the landslide and the water was frightening – it was incredible. You could hear people's houses being taken away."

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"The Guatemalan government said more than 36 inches of rain fell in
parts of the country and dozens of towns and villages were inaccessible
because of roads blocked by debris.

The
United States sent six military aircraft to Guatemala, from a base in
Honduras, to ferry aid and help with evacuations from isolated areas.

La
Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City was already closed after
being showered with ash from an eruption of the Pacaya volcano earlier
last week.

*****

"The worst storm-related disaster occurred in a village in Solola
department where a landslide swept away 25 homes killing 15 people,
with another 10 missing, according to San Antonio Palopo Mayor Andres
Cumes.

To prevent an outbreak of disease, the bodies will be buried at once, he said.

*****

BridgeOut02-small
BrodgeOut03-small

*****

We fled Lake Atitlan only hours before it all happened. We crossed the bridge in the photos above within six hours of its collapse. When it gave way the communities around the lake were isolated, perhaps until now, six days later.

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