SAN SALVADOR, Oct 11 – The death toll from Tropical storm Julia rose to at least 16 yesterday, officials said, with most victims coming from El Salvador and Honduras, as the weakening storm dumped heavy rainfall on a swath of Central America and southern Mexico.

Salvadoran authorities reported the deaths of nine people, including five soldiers, and at least 830 people evacuated.

Authorities in both El Salvador and Guatemala also cancelled classes yesterday.

In Honduras, five victims have been confirmed including a woman who died Sunday after she was swept away by flood waters, and a four-year-old boy in a boat that capsized near the Nicaragua border on Saturday night, officials said.

Panama’s emergency services confirmed later on Monday two deaths as a result of heavy rains, along with around 300 people evacuated from communities near the country’s border with Costa Rica.

Julia made landfall Sunday on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast before crossing into the Pacific Ocean.

Yesterday, the storm was moving northwest at 15 miles per hour (24 km/h) along the coast of El Salvador toward Guatemala, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The Miami-based NHC estimated Julia’s maximum sustained winds at about 35 mph (56 km/h) with its centre located some 35 miles northeast of Puerto San Jose Guatemala on the Pacific coast.

It is seen weakening on Monday evening.

But heavy rains could still cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides as it dissipates, the NHC said, with 5-10 inches of rainfall expected in El Salvador and southern Guatemala.

Mexico’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec and western Honduras could receive 3-6 inches of rain, with less rainfall seen in Nicaragua, Honduras and northern Guatemala, according to NHC estimates.

Honduran authorities added that 9,200 people sought refuge in shelters.

In Nicaragua, Julia left a million people without power and heavy rains and floods forced the evacuations of more than 13,000 families. – Reuters