San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Flood warning in Limón, Sarapiquí

Some 240 people took refuge in schools, churches and community halls Thursday after overflowing rivers flooded some 15 villages in the Caribbean province of Limón and the Caribbean slope canton of Sarapiquí in Heredia province, which killed a policeman during a rescue effort.

On Wednesday, National Police officer Juan Rafael Castillo, 61, drowned in the Siquirres River while trying to rescue nine people, including five children, trapped by the river´s rising water on the Puente Negro bridge, according to the Red Cross.

Rains and 90-kilometer winds slammed the regions this week, obliging CNE to issue a yellow alert, a mid-level precautionary warning.

Road authorities closed National Route 126 at Cartagos-Vara Blanca to cleanup landslides and road damage, the National Roadway Council said Thursday. The route is expected to stay closed until Monday.

The commission also declared a green alert, the lowest level, for Northern Zone cantons of San Carlos, Los Chiles, Upala and Guatuso, also affected by the rain.

A total of eight rivers spilled over their banks, according to the Red Cross, such as the Casa Amarilla and La Estrella rivers in Valle de la Estrella, the Quen and Telire rivers in Sixaola, the Chirripó near National Route 32 in Matina, and the Reventazón, Pacuare and Banano rivers.

Heavy winds also left many residents in the Central Valley without electricity.

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