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Heวอลเลย บอล หญ ง ไทย เกาหล 2017avy rains a mixed blessing for Latin America

U.S. probe ta | วอลเลย บอล หญ ง ไทย เกาหล 2017 | Updated: 2024-07-14 22:42:22

A general view shows the remains of a house where a family survived a landslide caused by heavy rains in Santiago Texacuangos, El Salvador June 21, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

Deadly storms and heavy rains in the past week caused chaos across Latin America, but it also brought a temporary relief to Mexico where the country's capital was close to running out of water.

Heavy storms killed more than two dozen people, including children, and caused landslides in several nations across the region that displaced thousands of people. The storms also brought some temporary relief to parts of Mexico that were experiencing a multi-year drought.

The drought in Mexico was particularly severe during the summer of 2023. Recorded annual rainfall in 2022 and 2023 in the Cutzamala basin, where Mexico City sits, was about one-third of the average in the past four decades.

Water levels in the Cutzamala reservoir had declined to 28 percent of capacity by June 7, according to Mexico's Water Department. The Cutzamala system takes water from the Cutzamala River for distribution to the Mexico City Metropolitan Area and the Valley of Toluca Metropolitan Area.

A heat wave in May worsened the drought and sped up water evaporation rates. Satellite images from NASA showed the severity of the conditions, even as the US space agency projected that the seasonal rains from June to September could alleviate the crisis.

The relief that the start of the rainy season has brought to Mexico City and its surrounding regions did little to minimize the more destructive effect of the storms and rains that hit much of the Americas. These include floods in parts of the United States to deadly landslides in Central and South America.

Unusually heavy rainfall fell from southern Mexico to western Panama, and authorities expect more rain, and potential destruction, throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical storm Alberto, which made landfall on June 20, left parts of northern Mexico flooded and affected Ecuador and Guatemala.

Eleven people, with the majority children, have died in El Salvador since June 15 in the torrential rains that ravaged Central America's Pacific Coast over the past week. Some 900 people were displaced.

Honduras reported that more than 5,000 people were affected by floods. Panama has not logged any damage during the torrential rains, but the country's authorities have issued a warning over potential storm-related problems.

ReliefWeb, which compiles weather data, expects more rainfall in central and southern Mexico as well as most of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The extreme weather conditions may signal intensified and extended seasons of drought and storms, said Carlos Samayoa, a campaigner at Greenpeace Mexico. While the recent rainfall may alleviate the most intense drought conditions, it is unlikely to solve the problem of water shortage over the long term.

"It was already forecasted that there would be rains and storms at least by the end of June and early July," Samayoa told this correspondent. "But this does not imply that, at least in the central part of the country, there is a very favorable scenario regarding (water in) the reservoirs."

Much more needs to be done to safeguard Mexico's environmentally vulnerable areas, Samayoa said. An issue of concern in the Valley of Mexico is that nearly 40 percent of water supplied to the city is lost due to leaks in the distribution system that are expensive to repair.

The water distribution system "is essential because, otherwise, nearly as much water is lost through leaks as is imported through the Cutzamala system", said Samayoa.

Similar issues are at play in other countries across the region.

In El Salvador, for example, the storms highlighted vulnerabilities in the early warning systems and the reality that the country is vulnerable to hazards, such as flooding and landslides, once rainfall surpasses 600 mm, said Luis Alonso Amaya, director general of El Salvador's civil protection system.

The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.

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