Sunday, October 23, 2011

German Tourist, 51, British Couple Drown Separately in Honduras, Spain

On Saturday (October 23) Honduran fisherman found the body of German tourist Sigrid Hellmann, 51, in shallow waters along country's Atlantic coast. Hellman apparently had been swept away by the swollen waters of a river and carried to the ocean’s edge. The German woman's body was found near Puerto Castilla about 375 miles from Tegucigalpa, the capital. Hellmann had arrived in Honduras just a few days before.

The strong current swept the body of Hellmann more than 2.5 miles from where the waters first took the four-wheel drive vehicle the tourist was in with three others. The river’s force overturned the vehicle on Friday that held Hellmann and three Canadian friends. All four were thrown into the water, although the three Canadians were able to swim to safety, although Hellman could not.

COMMENT: Hellmann was visiting the area of Santa Fe about three miles from the city of Trujillo. Rescue personnel and police searched for the body of the victim along the river between Santa Fe and Trujillo. For the last two weeks Honduras, as well as the rest of Central America, has received tremendous amounts of rain that have caused rivers to swell and flood their banks. The rains have killed 19 in Honduras, caused damage to more than 100 homes, and disrupted the lives of over 70,000 people.

It should be noted that an elderly British couple, Kenneth and Mary Hall, aged 72 and 70, respectively, were hit by a wall of water nearly a meter high at a market in the Spanish town of Finestrat on the Costa Blanca on Friday (October 21) while they were sitting at a sidewalk cafe. According to witnesses, the couple got tangled up in an awning that had collapsed and were pulled underwater. Last October, the town's council was fined 83,163 euros by Spain's Environment Ministry for asphalting the ravine bed without permission in 2004. In its ruling, the ministry said the council had the "obligation to abstain from using the ravine for a municipal market." The market also had signs in the wall warning tourists of the danger of flooding when it rained.

International tourists are cautioned to get into a protected building during heavy rain where there is the risk of flash-flooding, particularly in countries where adequate drain infrastructure does not exist. Sadly, three people who had great dreams of the future are no longer with us because they did not prudently seek safety indoors.

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