updated 11/16/2005 1:44:00 AM ET 2005-11-16T06:44:00

Mudslides killed two fishermen and destroyed seven homes as heavy rains brought by a tropical depression overflowed river banks and made roads impassable in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, emergency officials said Tuesday.

Torrents of rain also swept away two bridges outside of the Trinidad capital, Port-of-Spain, and flooding has forced 20 schools to close in the country’s east.

The poorly organized depression was moving south of the Dominican Republic and was expected to strengthen into Tropical Storm Gamma on Wednesday or Thursday, said Richard Knabb, a meteorologist with the U.S. Hurricane Center in Miami. It is not expected to threaten the United States.

It would be the 24th named storm of an already record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season. The previous record of 21 named storms had stood since 1933.

On the Grenadine island of Bequia on Monday, a mudslide buried two men in a party of 10 camping on a fishing trip near Rocky Bay, emergency management coordinator Howie Prince said.

The victims’ friends tried to dig them out but were overtaken by a second landslide and fled. Emergency workers recovered the bodies of Randolph Matthews, 27, and Alwyn Williams, 32, early Tuesday, Prince said. The men were from the fishing village of Questelles, on the main island of St. Vincent.

Near the capital, Kingstown, landslides destroyed three houses and rivers burst their banks, making several roads impassable, Prince said.

House collapses
One man was hospitalized with a head injury after his house collapsed. Another man lost all of his personal papers and most of his furniture.

The airport in St. Vincent was closed because of heavy rain and flooding in the terminal and debris on the runway. National emergency officials said 18 homes suffered major damage, and there were 33 reported incidents of landslides, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told NBC Radio St. Vincent.

In Trinidad, a river in the country’s east jumped its banks, leaving several homes flooded under 4 feet (1.2 meters) of water. Landslides have also left several roads impassable.

The depression was centered about 265 miles south-southeast of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic Tuesday evening. Maximum sustained winds remained near 35 mph.

The storm has been a poorly organized system due to the unchanged wind speed, said Richard Pasch, a U.S. hurricane specialist in Miami.

It was expected to produce 3 to 6 inches of rain over the Windward Islands and northern Venezuela, possibly over Bonaire and Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles, and Aruba.

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