San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

More than three dozen deaths during Semana Santa in Costa Rica

Drowning and car accidents were the leading cause of a total of 39 deaths that happened during Easter vacations last week, the highest figure in five years, according to the Costa Rican Red Cross (CRRC).

Most of the deaths resulted from traffic accidents (12), followed by drowning (12), death by firearms (7) and other causes (8).

Most deaths during Holy Week occurred in Costa Rica’s capital, San José (26 percent), followed by the province of Puntarenas (24 percent), Alajuela (18 percent), Limón (13 percent), Guanacaste (11 percent) and Heredia (8 percent). 

The Red Cross also performed 103 rescue operations, 69 of them related to near-drowning incidents and 34 involving car accidents, among other causes.

“During the week, we had to deploy a significant number of people, not only to the most-visited beaches in the country, but also to many main rivers and highways,” said Jim Batres, the CRRC’s sub-director of national rescue operations. “Each day we rescued an average of 14 people.”

Search and recovery workers are still looking for two missing persons: Alvaro Durán, a 36-year-old surfer who disappeared on Good Friday in Nosara Beach, in the Pacific coastal province of Guanacaste; and Denis Navarro, 30, who disappeared last Saturday in Bahía Ballena Beach, in the Southern Zone’s Osa Peninsula in Puntarenas.

Police also reported the seizure during Holy Week of more than eight pounds of cocaine, 50 firearms and 97 vehicles.

According to the Judicial Investigation Police, officers arrested 1,261 people during the holidays, 566 of them because of drug-related issues. The total amount of arrests decreased when compared to the same period in 2010, when police detained 2,713 people.

In total, more than 270 people died in Central America during the weeklong break, according to police reports and relief agencies.

Guatemala suffered the highest toll with at least 70 deaths. Most of the deaths were caused by violence. Approximately 45 people were shot dead in different parts of the country, and 30 more were injured due to gunshot wounds, authorities reported.

The fire department in Nicaragua announced that at least 43 were killed during the Holy Week. Twenty died due to drowning at resorts and beaches.

Authorities in El Salvador stated that a total of 33 people died in the country due to automobile accidents, drowning or intoxication.

In Honduras, at least 25 people were killed and 29 others were injured, reported Honduras’s Security Minister Oscar Alvarez.

In Panama, four people were reported dead, as a result of automobile accidents.

The EFE news agency contributed to this report.

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