Image: Landslide fatalities in Guatemala
Ulises Rodriguez  /  EPA
Guatemalans carry the coffins of two members of their community who died during a landslide at the village of Santa Apolonia in the Guatemalan province of Chimaltenango, on Monday.
updated 6/1/2010 12:41:03 AM ET 2010-06-01T04:41:03

Flooding and landslides from the season's first tropical storm have killed at least 145 people and made thousands homeless in Central America, officials said Monday.

Dozens of people were missing and emergency crews struggled to reach isolated communities cut off by washed-out roads and collapsed bridges caused by Tropical Storm Agatha.

The sun emerged Monday in hardest-hit Guatemala, where officials reported 120 dead and at least 53 missing. In the department of Chimaltenango — a province west of Guatemala City — landslides buried dozens of rural Indian communities and killed at least 60 people, Gov. Erick de Leon said.

"The department has collapsed," de Leon said. "There are a lot of dead people. The roads are blocked. The shelters are overflowing. We need water, food, clothes, blankets — but above all, money."

In the tiny village of Parajbei, a slide smothered three homes and killed 11 people.

"It was raining really hard and there was a huge noise," said Vicente Azcaj, 56, who ran outside and saw that a hill had crumbled. "Now everyone is afraid that the same will happen to their homes."

Volunteers from nearby villages worked nonstop since Sunday to recover the bodies in Parajbei, and on Monday they found the last two: brothers, 4 and 8 years old, who were buried under tons of dirt, rocks and trees.

As a thank-you, rescuers got a plate of rice and beans from the mayor of nearby Santa Apolonia.

It's a small thing, but it comes from the heart," Tulio Nunez told them through a translator.

Nunez said he worried about the well-being of survivors in the area because landslides blocked roads and broke water pipes.

"They don't have anything to drink," he said.

In all some 110,000 people were evacuated in Guatemala.

Thousands more fled their homes in neighboring Honduras, where the death toll rose to 15 while meteorologists predicted three more days of rain.

Two dams near the capital of Tegucigalpa overflowed into a nearby river, and officials warned people to stay away from swollen waterways.

"The risk is enormous," Mayor Ricardo Alvarez said.

In El Salvador, 11,000 people were evacuated. The death toll rose to 10 and two others were missing, President Mauricio Funes said Monday night.

About 95 percent of the country's roads were affected by landslides, but most remained open, Transportation Minister Gerson Martinez said. He said 179 bridges had been wrecked.

Image: Sinkhole
Luis Echeverria  /  Guatemala's Presidency via AP
A sinkhole covers a street intersection in downtown Guatemala City on Monday. A day earlier authorities blamed heavy rains as the cause of the crater that swallowed a a three-story building, but now say they will be conducting further studies to determine the cause.
The Lempa River, which flows to the Pacific, topped its banks and flooded at least 20 villages, affecting some 6,000 people, said Jorge Melendez, director of the Civil Protection Agency.

Officials warned that the Acelhuate River, which cuts through San Salvador, was running at dangerously high levels and threatened to spill over into the capital's streets.

Melendez said classes would be suspended Tuesday in all primary and secondary schools and public and private universities across El Salvador.

Agatha made landfall near the Guatemala-Mexico border Saturday as a tropical storm with winds up to 45 mph. It dissipated the following day over the mountains of western Guatemala.

The rising death toll is reminding nervous residents of Hurricane Mitch, which hovered over Central America for days in 1998, causing flooding and mudslides that killed nearly 11,000 people and left more than 8,000 missing and unaccounted for.

Rescue efforts in Guatemala have been complicated by a volcanic eruption Thursday near the capital that blanketed parts of the area with ash.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Photos: Storm, volcano pummel Guatemala

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  1. A huge sinkhole caused by tropical storm Agatha, in Guatemala City, on Monday, May 31. A violent storm that whalloped Central America over the weekend killed more than 100 people and left a swath of destruction, officials said Monday. Tropical Storm Agatha, the first in a season of tempests that annually strikes the region, was especially brutal in Guatemala, where mudslides proved deadly. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A woman inspects damage caused by Tropical Storm Agatha in the El Chile neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on May 31. (Orlando Sierra / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. The overflowing Choluteca River knocked out the Bailey bridge in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (Orlando Sierra / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A young girl cries while waiting in line for food at a shelter in Amatitlan, Guatemala,on Sunday,May 30. (Daniel Leclair / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Floodwaters caused by Tropical Storm Agatha inundate Escuintla, Guatemala, on May 30. (Presidencia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. This home in Amatitilan, Guatemala, was among the thousands flooded on Sunday. (Daniel Leclair / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A sinkhole caused by Agatha is seen in downtown Guatemala City on Sunday. The hole swallowed a three-story building but no injuries were reported. (Str / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A woman cleans mud from her home in Amatitilan on Sunday. (Daniel Leclair / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A man sits with his two dogs Sunday where his house once stood in Amatitilan. (Daniel Leclair / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. High winds downed poles and power lines like these in Guatemala City on Sunday. (Daniel Leclair / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. El Salvador also saw heavy rain, including this scene in the capital San Salvador on Saturday. (Jose Cabezas / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. A man watches heavy swells on Saturday in Puerto San Jose, Guatemala. (Johan Ordonez / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Evacuees stand at an emergency shelter in San Vicente Pacaya, Guatemala, on Saturday, May 29. The Pacaya volcano started erupting lava and rocks on Thursday afternoon, blanketing Guatemala City with ash and forcing the closure of the international airport. One television reporter has been killed and thousands of residents from villages closest to the volcano have been evacuated to shelters. (Moises Castillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Evacuees wait for food distribution at an emergency shelter in San Vicente Pacaya, Guatemala, on Saturday. (Moises Castillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A bus is covered with volcanic ash in Guatemala City on Friday. The Pacaya volcano has erupted again and the Guatemalan government declared a general state of disaster due to the eruption. (Luis Soto / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Ash from the Pacaya volcano covers a rooftop in Guatemala City on Saturday. (Prensa Libre / Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Red Cross paramedics assist a woman at the headquarters of the communal center of San Vicente Pacaya, Guatemala, on May 28. (Ulises Rodríguez / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A wasted corn harvest is covered by volcanic ash in the small village of Las Calderas, Guatemala, on 28 May 2010. Las Calderas was completely destroyed after the eruption of Pacaya volcano. (Ulises Rodríguez / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. An American Airlines plane stands covered with volcanic ash at the La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, on May 28. International flights to Guatemala have been suspended until further notice. (Luis Soto / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Daniel Morales, 9, shovels volcanic ash in a street in Guatemala City, on May 28. (Luis Soto / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
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