Saturday, October 13, 2007

Another News Clipping about the Flooding

10 Dead, 5 Missing in Avalanche
by Rod Hughes
UPDATE: As of 8 p.m. Friday, eight more bodies have been uncovered by rescue workers, bringing the confirmed death toll of the avalanche to 10 with at least five more persons missing.
Atenas–An avalanche of rock and mud buried seven homes in Bajo Cacao in the San Isidro district of this town northwest of the capital during the early morning hours yesterday. As of this writing, two persons are known dead and 13 are missing as rescue crews and neighbors dig frantically through the accumulation of debris that once was part of a hillside.
Heavy rains signalling the end of the rainy season–wetter than normal–also flooded homes throughout the Central Valley this week, as rivers left their beds and flowed into surrounding neighborhoods. But this morning, the attention of the country is focused on the rescue attempt.
Shortly after 1:50 a.m. yesterday, a neighbor gave the alarm that “a tragedy of great proportions” had occurred. Other neighbors heard the thunder of the slide and struggled through a torrential cloudburst to the scene in pitch blackness. One of them, Freddy Artavia, told the newspaper La Nacion, “The rocks and trees didn’t let us pass. It was very dark and we couldn’t see a thing. It was raining a lot.”
By 9:05 yesterday morning, the first victim’s body was found, that of 25-year-old Jeffry Aguero. By 1:10 in the afternoon, Red Cross workers found Arquimides Aviles, 40, an employee of a nearby chicken ranch. Red Cross rescue crewman Randal Viquez of nearby Atenas arrived shortly after 2 a.m. and described utter confusion and screaming.
One of the first things Aguero did was to rescue a child of about seven whose feet were trapped by the slide. He was immediately taken to an improvised medical facility in the Fatima community center.
As often happens during disasters, there were miraculous escapes. Isabel Sandi was carried 100 yards by the slide but managed to extricate herself from the ruins with only a glass cut on her hand. “My husband had more injuries than I. It was dark and we didn’t know where we were,” she said.
The avalanche, 200 yards wide, left a path of devastation 400 yards long down the hillside, reaching the bank of the Cacao River before it stopped with parts of three autos showing through the debris. But the seven missing homes were not the only casualties. The Red Cross felt it prudent to evacuate 22 other homes in stricken Bajo Cacao as well as 40 more in the La Mandarina housing development.
Meanwhile, more than 785 homes have been damaged by flooding on the Pacific slope and 235 persons are in emergency shelters. Especially hard hit was the Puntarenas province town of Parrita.
And, if that were not enough, the national Weather Institute says the torrential downpours may not be nearly over, with a low pressure area in the Caribbean moving in Costa Rica’s direction. The country’s topography is so narrow that a low pressure zone close in on the east inevitably sucks in wet air from the Pacific, bringing rains.

Saturday October 13th, no rain yet today. Hopefully, things will dry out some to prevent more mudslides. A portion of the Auto Pista (major road), between San Ramon and Puntarenas collapsed yesterday also. Don't know if it is open yet. A friend was going to meet us for lunch, yesterday, but was not able to get on the highway.

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