San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Death Toll, Evacuee Numbers Rise; At Least 23 Dead

At least 23 people in Costa Rica have been killed by rains and landslides that hammered the country during most of the week.

On Friday morning, Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission (CNE) said that 2,665 people across the country have been moved to 50 temporary shelters. Rescue crews are still searching for several missing victims in San Antonio de Escazú, a mountainside suburb west of San José, where a landslide claimed at least 20 lives early Thursday morning. Police estimate at least 15 people remain missing in San Antonio.

Rescuers said that persistent rains have complicated Friday’s search. On Friday morning, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla visited the area and gave her condolences to families and storm victims.

In Parrita, a town on the Central Pacific coast, one man was drowned in his vehicle on Thursday night when floodwaters filled the street and flipped his car.

The Costa Rican Red Cross also recovered two bodies that were buried in landslide debris in San Marcos de Tarrazú in the Los Santos zone, south of San José. Emergency personnel are searching for two additional people who were reported missing in San Marcos de Tarrazú.

At least 39 of Costa Rica’s 81 cantons have registered damages and 348 communities have been affected due to this week’s heavy rain, mostly in the Central Valley and along the Pacific coast. Several communities remain isolated due to collapsed bridges and flooded roadways, including parts of Aserrí, a mountain town south of San José.

Residents in Aserrí told the Tico Times on Friday morning that they were filling buckets with rainwater to drink.

On Friday morning, officials at Costa Rica’s Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) told the Tico Times that 160,000 residents across the country remain without access to clean drinking water because of tubing and system collapses due to the strong rains. That number is down from 700,000 on Thursday.Costa Rica remains on Red Alert on Friday as indirect rains from Hurricane Tomas continue to fall in most regions of the country. The central government has decreed a state of national emergency declared Friday and Saturday as days of national mourning.

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