The remnants of Hurricane Eta unleashed torrential rains and catastrophic flooding on Central America, with fatalities sharply up on Thursday as streets turned into rivers and dozens more were feared to be buried in their homes by mudslides.
In Guatemala, the death toll shot up past 50 over the course of the day, according to President Alejandro Giammattei, who said mudslides around the town of San Cristobal Verapaz had swallowed about 25 homes.
“Right now, we’re trying to get there on foot because there’s no other way,” said Giammattei, referring to flooded out roads near the town, located about 120 miles (193 km) north of the Guatemalan capital.
In neighboring Honduras, families waded through flooded streets of the northern city of San Pedro Sula, while cars sat almost submerged in parts of the central Guatemalan city of San Pedro Carcha, television footage and images posted on social media showed.
Hundreds of people were left stranded on roofs in Honduras as frantic rescue efforts played out, which were credited with taking around 500 people to safety.
“The situation is serious, it’s shocking and needs to be dealt with professionally, fast,” Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez told HCH television earlier in the day.