Hurricane Julia drenches Central America; 16 reported dead

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Hurricane Julia drenches Central America; 16 reported dead

Tropical storm Julia has drenched the Central American nations of Guatemala and El Salvador, killing more than a dozen people across the region and forcing authorities to evacuate hundreds of residents and set up emergency shelters.

Julia has been downgraded to a tropical depression, bringing wind speeds of 60 kilometres per hour (37 miles per hour) to Guatemala on Monday, down from 140km/h (85mph) when the storm hit the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua as a hurricane a day earlier.

While the storm has started to ease and is expected to dissipate later on Monday, authorities warned that dangerous conditions could persist.

“Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides should continue from Julia across Central American and Southern Mexico through Tuesday,” the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in an advisory.

The Miami-based NHC also said 13 to 24cm (five to 10 inches) of rainfall was possible in El Salvador and southern Guatemala.