Rains bring tragedy and challenges
A tragic loss of life last week brought renewed focus on the need for government bodies in El Salvador to act on infrastructure projects to reduce flooding and other risks. Last Thursday night, 31 members of El Salvador's Elim Church were drowned as their bus was swept into a raging river current and smashed against a bridge pylon.
In a fierce thunderstorm that night, more than 5 inches (128mm) of rain fell, and the river Acelhuate overflowed its banks. The torrent caught the bus full of worshipers from the large evangelical church and pulled it into the river's concrete channel. A camera and video team from El Diario de Hoy just happened to be in the exact area and caught the last moments of the bus on video.
Through the following days, the press was filled with reports of the grieving families, the story of the one survivor, and the search for bodies which were carried by the river's current all the way to Chalatenango.
Many sought answers for the cause of the tragedy. According to a story in El Faro, authorities had conducted a study following Hurricane Stan to determine where rivers would flood in metropolitan San Salvador depending on the intensity of a rain storm. That study predicted that it would take more than 210mm of rain for the river to overflow its banks in that location, much more than the rainfall that night. Possible alternative causes were debris including tree trunks in the river channel forcing the river higher, but there are no definite findings at this time.
The National Assembly has called for an investigation.