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144 dead after tropical storm hits Central America

Flooding and landslides from the season's first tropical storm have killed at least 144 people and left thousands homeless in Central America, officials have said.

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

Officials in Guatemala reported 120 dead and at least 53 missing. In Chimaltenango, a province west of Guatemala City, landslides buried dozens of rural Indian communities and killed at least 60 people, Governor Erick de Leon said.

"The department has collapsed," Mr 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 all about 110,000 people were evacuated in Guatemala.

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

Two dams near the capital 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, at least 179 landslides have been reported and 11,000 people were evacuated. The death toll was nine, President Mauricio Funes said.

About 95% of the country's roads were affected by landslides, but most remain open, transport minister Gerson Martinez said.

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