Natural disasters

Hurricane Stan floods coastal Guatemala

Hurrricane Stan struck Guatemala last week with torrential winds and rain battering the coast and inland from October 4 to 9. Some 1,5 million people were directly affected.

MSF is now providing relief in the most-affected areas of the country and provided first-aid kits and potable water. The main needs are for water and sanitation support and epidemiological monitoring. MSF has also carried out assessment missions in isolated areas such as Malacatan, close to Mexico and Champerico, in the south.

MSF has been present in Guatemala for the past 19 years. There are 65 staff members, expats and national staff, working at the emergency. The team will grow to 71 in the coming days.

Atitlan Lake Area, Solola Department

MSF was the first international organisation to reach this area in the aftermath of Hurricane Stan. Three logisticians, a doctor and a nurse arrived in the Atitlan Lake area on Friday and Saturday, 7-8 October, and carried out assessments in the towns of Santiago de Atitlan and San Pedro Laguna, which were reported to have been severely affected by the storm, with at least 3,000 people in 18 provisional shelters. The current team in the area is a nurse and a logistician.

A two-truck MSF convoy carrying 7,000 kgs of relief materials (including a basic emergency medical materials, blankets, mattresses and drinkable water) arrived in the area on Saturday, October 8. On Tuesday, October 11, an additional truck carrying 4,500 kgs was sent to the area containing plastic sheeting, blankets and materials for purifying 22,000 liters of water.

Access to the area is still very difficult by road. A tourist zone, the Atitlan Lake was hard hit by Stan and the rain has continued since last week. MSF is monitoring the health needs in the area, as well as the water and sanitation situation.

Retaluhleu and Escuintla Departments

A helicopter evaluated the area and an MSF vehicle arrived October 13 in Champerico (pop. 8,000 people) with two basic emergency medical kits. The team, a doctor and a logistician, are monitoring the area but access is still difficult.

Santa Rosa Department

MSF has carried out assessments in Chiquimulilla and several surrounding villages. There are now approximately 850 people living in three shelters. MSF activated a health committee in one of the shelters and made a donation of chlorine, hygiene and health supplies.

Over 3,000 wells may be contaminated in Chiquimulilla and MSF is assessing the need for cleaning and rehabilitating these wells. MSF has also carred out assessments in San Marcos and the surrounding villages, donating two basic emergency medical kits in Tacana in San Marcos zone.


Coatepeque grew from 3,000 to 11,000 people after Hurricane Stan hit last week. MSF carried out medical consultations in a shelter for 400 people displaced by the storm before it closed on October 12. The team is now coordinating the response to medical needs in Coatepeque and providing medical consultations in various shelters.

Access to OcÃ?³s (where there are an estimated 350 families) from Coatepeque remains difficult and 70 percent of the housing there has been destroyed. MSF has opened a small clinic and supply center.