GUATEMALA CITY - Rural villagers used hoes and pickaxes to hunt for victims of landslides that have killed at least 179 people in Central America, while officials in Guatemala's capital tried to cope with a vast sinkhole that swallowed a clothing factory.
Thousands remained homeless and dozens still missing after the season's first tropical storm. Rescue crews struggled to reach isolated communities to distribute food and water.
"This is a total tragedy," said Jose Vicente Samayoa, president of a neighborhood group in Amatitlan, a flooded town south of Guatemala's capital.
Officials in Guatemala reported 152 dead but said 100 people were still missing. In the department of Chimaltenango - a province west of Guatemala City - landslides buried rural Indian communities and killed at least 60 people.
Curious onlookers also gathered at a huge sinkhole that swallowed an entire intersection in Guatemala City over the weekend, gulping down a clothing factory but causing no deaths or injuries.
Authorities estimate the hole is 66 feet wide and nearly 100 feet deep, but they are still investigating what caused it.
Nearly 125,000 people were evacuated in Guatemala and thousands more fled their homes in neighboring Honduras, where the death toll rose to 17 after two youths disappeared while bathing in a turbulent river despite official warnings to stay away from swollen waterways.
In El Salvador, 11,000 people were evacuated. The death toll rose to 10 and two people were missing, President Mauricio Funes said Monday night.
About 95 percent of El Salvador's roads were affected by landslides, but most remained open, Transportation Minister Gerson Martinez said. He said that 179 bridges had been wrecked.
Agatha made landfall near the Guatemala-Mexico border Saturday with tropical-storm winds of up to 45 m.p.h. It dissipated the following day over the mountains of western Guatemala.
The rising death toll is reminding nervous residents of Hurricane Mitch, which hovered over Central America for days in 1998, causing flooding and mudslides that killed nearly 11,000 people and left more than 8,000 missing and unaccounted for.
Rescue efforts in Guatemala have been complicated by a volcanic eruption Thursday near the capital that blanketed parts of the area with ash.