San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Easter Holy Week Death Toll Reaches 30

THE revelry of ecstatic vacationersusually results in a bout of increased crimeand violent deaths throughout the countryduring Semana Santa (Easter Holy Week),and this year was no exception.Thirty violent deaths were registeredlast week – a decrease from last year’s 31,according to the Costa Rican Red Cross.More than half the victims were youngerthan 30 years old, and four of them werechildren.Highways were the main venues fortragedy. According to the Red Cross, themain causes of death were car accidents(9), water accidents and drownings (6),victims of guns and other weapons (6),unknown causes (5) and poisoning (1).Additionally, three people died afterbeing struck by lightning last week. WalterOcampo, 30, died in the popular beach townof Jacó, in the province of Puntarenas.Marcela Fuentes, 24, was struck in thePacific port-town of Quepos and MarcelinoVega, 57, perished in the Puntarenas port ofCaldera, said a statement from the JudicialInvestigation Police (OIJ).THE Red Cross dispatched more than800 volunteers, mainly to beaches andhighways, in a massive, eight-day operativethe organization says saved the lives ofat least 82 people.In the past five years, the Red Crosshas saved 321 people from certain death,according to statistics from the institution.Since 1996, 295 people have met theirdeath during Easter week, said a statementfrom the Red Cross. The organization said1999 remains the most violent SemanaSanta of the past decade, yielding 47deaths during the week.This year, a total of 403 people diedduring Easter week throughout CentralAmerica, according to the newswire EFE.Most deaths resulted from alcohol abuse,traffic accidents and violence.El Salvador registered the highestdeath rate in Central America, with 153victims, while deaths in Nicaraguaamounted to 102. In Guatemala, 72 peoplelost their lives and 46 deaths were reportedin Honduras, according to EFE.IN the Costa Rican crime scene, policechief Walter Navarro said more than11,000 policemen were dispatchedthroughout the country to help keep orderduring last week’s festivities.The Public Security Ministry confiscated16 guns and large quantities of drugsincluding marijuana, crack and cocaine lastweek at a police post near the Zurquí tunnel,on the road from San José to the Caribbeanprovince of Limón, according to a statementfrom the Public Security Ministry.On Saturday, a Brazilian tourist in PuertoVargas, in the Caribbean province of Limón,found a package on the beach containing 50kilos of cocaine, said Nicolás Aguilar,spokesman for the Public Security Ministry.“Authorities suspect the drug floatedashore from a ship out at sea,” he said.AT the border with Nicaragua, CostaRican Immigration officials apprehendedmore than 3,100 undocumented immigrantslast week.The foreigners were turned back afterbeing intercepted as they tried to enterCosta Rica through cow fields and otherborder areas that are not legally permissiblefor entry into the country, officials said.

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