Aerial patrols are conducted over beach areas to prevent entry of swimmers in Cartagena. Reuters
Gulf Today Report
A fast-strengthening Hurricane Iota is sweeping over the western Caribbean as it barrels toward Central America, a region still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Eta.
Experts predict this year’s unprecedented storm season will force more people to migrate as it heads for the same part of Central American battered by a similarly powerful Hurricane Eta just over a week ago.
Evacuations were being conducted from low-lying areas in Nicaragua and Honduras near their shared border, which appeared to be Iota's likely landfall. Winds and rain were already being felt on the Nicaraguan coast Sunday night.
Several residents of Bilwi expressed concern that their homes would not stand up to Iota, so soon after Eta. Local television showed people being evacuated in wooden boats, carrying young children as well as dogs and chickens.
Authorities are warning that Hurricane Iota could exacerbate the massive destruction wrought by Hurricane Eta, which slammed into the region two weeks ago, causing flooding and mudslides that destroyed crops and killed scores of people across a huge swath from Panama to southern Mexico.
Iota became a hurricane early Sunday and rapidly gained power, and was expected to pass over or near Colombia's Providencia island during the night. It became a dangerous Category 3 hurricane early Monday, and the US National Hurricane Center warned it would probably reach Category 4 strength as it approached the Central America mainland late Monday.
In Honduras, Douglas Espinal, head of the fire department of Puerto Lempira on the Mosquito Coast, told the media that evacuees have been arriving since early Saturday, traveling from the region’s remote peninsulas.
“People are coming from the coastal areas, but only those who have a boat or a canoe. The rest are staying in their communities,” he said.
Espinal said Puerto Lempira has run out of fuel since deliveries were suspended following Hurricane Eta, making it impossible for the fire department to carry out a more extensive evacuation plan.
Puerto Lempira is the largest municipality in the Honduran department of Gracias a Dios, accessible only by air, sea or by traversing its internal rivers. With just over 100,000 residents, according to the National Institute of Statistics, the area is home to a number of indigenous communities, including Miskitos, Garifunas, Pech and Tawhakas.
Puerto Lempira is still recovering from massive flooding sparked by Eta that caused property damage and crop losses.
Iota made landfall in Nicaragua as a “catastrophic” Category 5 hurricane on Monday, but its remnants will continue to be deadly through Thursday even as 2020’s biggest Atlantic storm subsided over El Salvador.
With catastrophic winds and storm surges Hurricane Iota is threatening catastrophic damage to the same part of Central America already battered by equally strong Hurricane Eta less than two weeks ago.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday the administration had notified that it had started the formal process of terminating agreements that had been part of Trump's effort to restrict asylum.
Honduras’ president is accused of stealing money from government coffers and taking bribes from narco-traffickers. Guatemala’s head is known for handing out government contracts to family friends. El Salvador’s president has shut down the country’s internationally
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