SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — At least seven people have been killed in landslides in El Salvador following four days of heavy rains across the country, Civil Defense authorities said Thursday.
Two people died in Panchimalco about 11 miles (18 kilometers) south of the capital and a family of five perished in the municipality of Huizucar, also south of San Salvador, Civil Defense Director Luis Alonso Amaya said.
In the Huizucar incident, three of those killed were children. The family’s home in the community of La Pedrera was left completely buried by mud.
The house sat below a steep hillside covered in lush vegetation. On Thursday morning, only a brown muddy chute broke the thick green jungle, leading directly to the family's home. Rescuers stepped unsteadily around twisted sheets of corrugated metal roofing where the house had been.
Marta Alicia Gomez Hernández, a relative of the family that died, was overcome with emotion.
“The house fell on top of them,” she said. “We ran down to see. This has been tough for us.”
In the other slide in Panchimalco, two people were rescued and taken to a hospital where they died.
Authorities declared an alert in 29 coastal municipalities and for all municipalities in the department of San Miguel in the east of the country. They told residents to heed calls to evacuate areas if told.
"We have reached a time of the winter when the level of moisture saturation in the soil tends to generate this type of phenomena,” Amaya said.
The Environment Ministry warned of a high likelihood of urban flooding, rivers overtopping their banks and the swamping of agricultural land.