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Storm Eta: Up to 150 feared dead in Guatemala landslide as devastating weather wreaks havoc

Landslide Danger Alert

Up to 150 people are feared to have been killed in a landslide in Guatemala after Storm Eta lashed central America with torrential downpours.

Many of those who lost their lives in the remote mountain village of Queja in the country’s central region of Alta Verapaz were buried in their homes under mud, according to the authorities.

The devastating weather front has wreaked havoc from Panama to Honduras and Mexico, which between them have recorded more than 50 flood-related deaths.

Soldiers trying to reach the site of the Queja landslide had their search for survivors hampered by atrocious conditions, including thick mud.

An army spokesman said it was not the first time disaster had struck the area, which was the scene of a huge landslide a decade ago, that killed dozens.

Footage of severe flooding in another part of Guatemala showed boats ferrying villagers to safety and rescue workers wading through waist-deep water carrying children on their backs.

Eta is one of the fiercest storms to hit Central America in years, with the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) warning that “catastrophic flooding” in the region would continue.

Rescue operations across Honduras and Guatemala have been hampered by destroyed roads and bridges, forcing authorities to bring in the military and use helicopters and speedboats to rescue people stranded on top of their homes.

“We have a lot of people trapped we have not been able to reach,” said Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.

He tweeted a picture of an elderly man being rescued with the caption: “We will do whatever it takes, where it takes, whatever it takes to reach every Guatemalan. We will not leave you alone.”

In Honduras, flooding has killed 23 people and two are missing, the government said.

“This is the worst storm Honduras has seen in decades. The damage will undoubtedly be significant,” said Mark Connolly, UNICEF representative in Honduras, who estimated about 1.5 million children there will be affected.

“We have been without food for two days… waiting to be evacuated,” said William Santos, sheltering on top of a banana packing plant with about 300 people in northern Honduras.

Across the border from Guatemala in the Mexican state of Chiapas, flooding has killed 19 people.

The devastation recalls memories of Hurricane Mitch, which killed some 10,000 people in Central America back in 1998.

Latest reports put Eta off Belize’s coast in the Caribbean, heading towards Cuba and Florida.

But remnants of the weather system will continue to hammer parts of Central America with flooding, said the NHC.

Courtesy of Sky News

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Deadly flooding displaces thousands across Mekong region

Severe Flood Warning

Elderly residents and small children clung to inflatable tyres as soldiers and police used rope lines to bring them to safety beyond rising floodwater in Cambodia’s western province of Battambang, which is expected to worsen on Sunday.

Hundreds of families in three Cambodian provinces – Pursat, Battambang and Pailin – have been forced to evacuate amid extreme rainfall heralding the arrival of a tropical depression across the Mekong region.

“A two-year-old child and 57-year-old man have drowned in the flood,” Seak Vichet, a spokesman for the Cambodian national committee for disaster management told the AFP news agency late on Saturday.

Authorities do not yet have a clear picture of the extent of the damage or people affected but expect the situation to get worse.

Five people have died with eight still missing as floodwaters inundated more than 33,000 homes and forced more than 26,000 people to evacuate, the official disaster management authority said.

The national highway linking northern Vietnam to the south has been flooded, while airlines cancelled some domestic flights, local media report.

Roads also turned to rivers and water inundated properties in Thailand’s Nakhon Ratchasima province, as residents scrambled to place sandbags and move their belongings to higher ground.

Provincial Governor Vichien Chantaranothai said the Pak Chong district was the hardest hit, with 8,000 households and 12,000 people affected. About 200 homes were inundated.

Authorities were distributing food packages and urged people to evacuate to community shelters.

“The water is three metres deep in some parts,” he told reporters on Saturday.

The Khao Yai National Park was closed this weekend because of heavy rain and landslides.

In Laos, rising floodwaters have damaged villages and rice fields along the Xepon and Xebanghieng rivers in Savannakhet province with more rain on the way.

Courtesy of aljazeera.com

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Storm Alex: Two dead and nine missing after heavy rain batters France and Italy

A building under renovation that collapsed next to a watercourse in Limone Piemonte, near Cuneo, Piedmont.

A storm in France and Italy has caused severe flooding and at least two people are dead and nine are missing with hundreds of rescues taking place.

The UK has been hit by the fringes of the storm, with heavy rain and winds set to persist throughout the weekend.

In France, Nice and its surrounding areas were the hardest hit overnight as 500mm (20ins) of rain was recorded over 12 hours in some areas, according to Meteo France.

That amounts to nearly a year’s worth of average rainfall, more than on 3 October 2015 when 20 people died in floods in Cannes and the surrounding area on the French Riviera.

In the village of Sambughetto, in the northwest Italian region of Piedmont, a record 630mm (24.8ins) of rain fell in 24 hours.

Roads have been swept away and homes have been badly damaged in the mountainous region on the border of France and Italy.

French authorities said firefighters were looking for at least eight people who are missing.

They include two firefighters whose vehicle was carried away by a swollen river.

Christian Estrosi, Nice’s mayor, expressed his “sympathy” for the families of those missing and said the flooding was the worst in the area for more than a century, adding that he was shocked by what he saw when he flew over the scene in a helicopter.

He said more than 100 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged.

Firefighters said several dozen people were evacuated from their homes overnight.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he is thinking of the victims and their loved ones as he expressed his gratitude for rescue workers.

“Together, we will get through this,” he tweeted.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin are expected to arrive in the area later on Saturday.

The storm caused heavy winds of more than 112mph (180kph) in Brittany between Thursday and Friday.

In Italy, a firefighter was killed after he was hit by a falling tree and another man died after his car was swept into a river when the road subsided. Another Italian was missing as night fell.

There were fears the storm would bring flooding, with the water level in the Po river, one of northern Italy’s biggest rivers, rising by 3 metres.

In Venice, the Italian city’s long-delayed flood barriers were deployed for the first time on Saturday.

Forecasters warned the storm could combine with high tides to inundate the sinking city.

The network of 78 bright yellow barriers that guard the entrance to the Venetian lagoon started to lift from the seabed more than three hours before high tide was scheduled.

Driven by strong winds and heavy rain, the tide was expected to reach 130cm (51ins), well below the 187cm (74ins) tide that plunged much of Venice under water last November, but enough to leave low-lying areas deep under water.

The barrier system, called Mose, was designed in 1984 and was due to come into service in 2011 but the project was plagued by corruption, overrunning costs and prolonged delays.

It successfully protected the city from major flooding, bringing relief after years of inundation

Courtesy of Sky News

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