VII.42 World Heritage sites in Central America
The Secretariat reported that Hurricane Mitch swept over Central America during the final days of October 1998, causing heavy rains and storms and inundating important parts of Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. The region has a number of World Heritage sites, including:
El Salvador: Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site
Guatemala: Tikal National Park
Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua
Honduras: Maya site of Copan
Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve (on the Danger List)
Nicaragua: The site of Leon Viejo, recognised by the Bureau as having World Heritage values, but not inscribed as yet.
The Secretariat informed of serious flooding in the excavated areas of the extremely fragile site of Joya de Ceren in El Salvador as well as damage to the roofs that protect the excavated structures. A request for emergency assistance for an amount of US$ 35,000 was under consideration by the Chairperson. Serious damage was also reported to Leon Viejo in Nicaragua. During the session, the Observer of Guatemala informed that no major damage had occurred to the monuments of Tikal or Quirigua, but that flooding destroyed the infrastructure at Quirigua and had left behind a thick layer of mud in Quirigua and Antigua Guatemala. Some churches in Antigua Guatemala were also affected. No information had been obtained on the properties in Honduras.
The Committee expressed its sincere regrets and serious concern about the loss of life and destruction caused by Hurricane Mitch in the countries of Central America. It expressed its readiness to collaborate with the authorities in the States Parties concerned in assessing damage that may have been caused to the World Heritage in the region and in taking remedial actions that may be necessary for their preservation or restoration.
The Committee requested the Secretariat to transmit the above to the States Parties concerned and to provide, jointly with the advisory bodies, a full report on the conditions of the World Heritage in the region to the twenty-third session of the Bureau.
During the examination of this matter, ICOMOS stressed the need to incorporate risk preparedness schemes in overall planning activities. It drew the attention of the Committee to the Manual for Risk Preparedness for Cultural Properties that it recently published in collaboration with ICCROM with funds provided from the World Heritage Fund.