Storm Eta death tolls rise in Mexico, Honduras

TUXTLA GUTIÉRREZ, MEXICO (AFP) – Torrential rain and a bitter cold front linked to storm system Eta have claimed at least 20 lives in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, officials said on Saturday.

And authorities in Honduras said flooding in the north and northwest caused by torrential downpours had now left 23 people dead after another 10 people lost their lives on Friday.

The government of Chiapas – which borders Guatemala, where about 150 people are dead or missing in the wake of the storm – said 10 bodies were found in the river in the town of Chenalho.

Early reports indicated they had been swept away by powerful currents.

Eight other people died in the cities of El Bosque and La Grandeza, the government said. Another person was washed away by a stream in Oxchuc, while a youth died in Mitontic.

The storm caused landslides that blocked roads in at least 20 locations in Chiapas, a poor region with a majority indigenous population.

The government said five rivers had overflowed their banks, and flooding cut off three towns.

The United States (US) and Guatemala have sent helicopters to Honduras to help with a rescue mission that involves 50,000 emergency services workers, authorities said.

More than 16,000 people have been rescued by boat and helicopter from regions ravaged by Eta, government disaster relief agency the Permanent Contingencies Committee said.