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Season's 1st tropical storm drenches part of Central America

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — The first tropical storm of the Eastern Pacific season drenched parts of Central America on Sunday and officials in El Salvador said at least seven people had died in flooding.

President Nayib Bukele decreed a 15-day state of emergency to deal with the rains that began pounding the country on Friday ahead of Tropical Storm Amanda's landfall on Sunday.

“We are facing a critical situation,” said Intrior MInister Mario Durán. “The situation in all of the country and especially in the metropolitan area of San Salvador is grave.”

Amanda had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) when it hit Sunday morning, but it soon weakened back to tropical depression status with winds of 35 mph (55 kph) by the afternoon, when it was centered about 45 miles (75 kilometers) northeast of Guatemala City. It was moving to the north at 9 mph (15 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters said it should soon weaken or dissipate during the day or by night, but there was a possibility its remnants could form a new system in the Gulf of Mexico.

El Salvador's Civil Defense agency said at least seven people had died in the flooding, including an 8-year-old child. San Salvador Mayor Ernesto Muyshondt said 50 houses had been destroyed in the capital, and officials said hundreds of people around the country had been evacuated as rivers overflowed.

Amanda could dump 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 centimeters) of rain over El Salvador, southern Guatemala, western Honduras and southeastern Mexico, with lesser accumulations over parts of Nicaragua and Belize.

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