BELIZE CITY – Flash flooding carried away houses and ripped a child from his father's grasp in Belize, raising the death toll from Central America's twin tropical storms to at least seven — with rain still causing floods Tuesday in neighboring Mexico.
The remnants of Pacific Tropical Storm Alma swept over Belize hours before Tropical Storm Arthur roared in from the Caribbean on Saturday at the Mexico-Belize border.
Witnesses said a couple and their 14-year-old daughter died when a flash flood swept away a house in southern Belize's Stann Creek Valley early Monday. The couple's 12-year-old son is missing.
"That flood just came right now, sudden one, and when I look I saw my nephew's house over there and I told him to get out," Bedford Ritchie told Channel 7. "It looks like he was trying to pack up his things and the water didn't give him any break. The water just come right up and picked up their house and took it down there and mashed it up."
Wellington McKenzie told Channel 7 that a friend died trying to help him rescue others in their neighborhood.
"He couldn't stand up no more and he went underneath my house and there he drowned," McKenzie said.
Officials also were searching for a young boy who was pulled from his father's arms by floodwaters as the two tried to reach the safety of a mango tree.
"I went underneath the water and I bit my little boy in his hand, just to hold him, and by the time I came up back, he was gone," Philberto Roches, told Channel 7. "So I turned around and tried to find him and never did find him again."
The death toll had yet to be confirmed by authorities.
Nicaragua's navy announced it had found the storm-wrecked boat and body of one of three Costa Rican fisherman missing since Thursday, and it was still searching for the two other missing men.
One man was electrocuted earlier by wind-whipped power lines in Nicaragua and a 7-year-old girl drowned in Honduras.
High waters in Belize left dozens stranded on their roofs, washed out a key bridge to the southern section of the country and damaged highways.
Papaya plantations, shrimp farms and the country's three-month supply of rice were also wiped out.
Mexico's Communications and Transportation Department said Tuesday that the Gulf oil port of Dos Bocas had reopened while Cayo Arcas was still closed because of strong winds and rough seas. Mexico exports roughly 1.5 million barrels of oil a day, mainly to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Officials in Mexico's Gulf coast state of Tabasco reported that thousands of people were forced from their homes by flooding.