Iota arrived in Honduras this Tuesday as a tropical storm after leaving four dead on its way and causing damage in Nicaragua, where thousands of people were cut off, without water or electricity. The storm threatens to aggravate the situation in a Central America devastated two weeks ago by cyclone Eta.
The head of Meteorology of the Honduran civil protection (Copeco), Francisco Argeñal, told . that Iota entered Honduras through the eastern department of El Paraíso and passed 55 km south of Tegucigalpa.
Argeñal predicted that the storm, which is advancing at 19 km / h with sustained winds of 80 km / h, will hit El Salvador early Wednesday morning.
The Honduran government ordered the closure of the country’s main highways until Wednesday morning due to the risk of rivers overflowing.
Iota, which made landfall Monday night as a Category 5 hurricane (the highest on the Saffir-Simpson scale), was downgraded to a tropical storm on Tuesday.
The Iota pass has so far left four dead, including two children who died while trying to cross a river in southeastern Nicaragua, First Lady Rosario Murillo reported.
This Monday one death was reported on the Colombian island of Providencia, and another this Tuesday in the Panamanian indigenous community of Ngäbe Buglé.
Stronger than Eta, Iota reached Nicaragua as a hurricane with maximum winds of 260 km / h, according to a report from the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Flash floods and river floods that threaten the lives of residents are expected to continue until Thursday in parts of Central America due to rains caused by Iota, the NHC warned.
And in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala these phenomena “could be exacerbated by the recent effects of Hurricane Eta”, which also made landfall on November 3 in the Nicaraguan Caribbean and left at least 200 dead and 2.5 million affected in Central America.
In Bilwi, the main city in the North Caribbean of Nicaragua, there are “falling trees, electricity poles, the roofs of houses that were blown up in the air and a hotel that lost its entire roof,” said the director of the National System. of Prevention, Mitigation and Attention of Disasters (Sinapred), Guillermo González.
– Without communication –
Nicaraguan Infrastructure Minister Denis Moncada said that brigades are trying to clear 497 trees that fell on roads in the Caribbean municipalities of Rosita, Siuna and Bonanza.
He indicated that on the Pacific coast there are roadblocks, mainly in the southern department of Rivas, on the Pan-American Highway, due to the overflow of the Ochomogo River.
Sinapred reported that 48,000 people were evacuated in Nicaragua, the majority in the North Caribbean.
But the real extent of the damage caused by Iota in the area is unknown as communication with Bilwi has been interrupted.
The Nicaraguan state telecommunications company (Telcor) reported in a press release that there are “serious effects” on communications in that town.
The Nicaraguan government reported that 114,200 homes across the country were left without electricity and 47,638 without water.
Sinapred also warned of potential landslides due to heavy rains in other locations in Nicaragua.
– Regional threat –
As Iota approached Honduras, the military and police evicted residents from risk areas in the Sula Valley region and from the banks of rivers and neighborhoods prone to landslides in Tegucigalpa.
In the Miskito community of Nueva Jerusalem, in the Caribbean, winds destroyed the roof of the health center and 38 houses, and uprooted trees, according to a report by Copeco.
On Monday, at least one person died on the Colombian island of Providencia where Iota destroyed about 98% of its infrastructure, as reported by President Iván Duque on Twitter.
The Panamanian authorities, meanwhile, reported a deceased woman in the Ngäbe Buglé indigenous region, while some 2,000 people were sheltered, although the rains decreased in that country.
Iota was also felt in Costa Rica, which reported 16 floods, mostly on the Pacific coast, and five landslides that blocked routes, according to the National Emergency Commission.
Guatemala was preparing for “the worst,” said President Alejandro Giammattei, although the damage has been less than expected.
The current hurricane season in the Atlantic has broken records. Iota is the thirteenth of 30 named storms recorded this year to reach hurricane status.
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