Flooded houses caused by river Wawa Boom are seen after being hit by Hurricane Iota in Bilwi, Nicargua. AFP
Gulf Today Report
Iota’s death toll rose to over 30 on Wednesday as it passed through Honduras, according to authorities.
The storm unleashed mudslides, smashed infrastructure and left thousands homeless in its wake across Central America, revisiting areas devastated by Hurricane Eta just two weeks ago.
According to authorities at least 357,339 people were impacted by the hurricane as it crossed through Honduras.
In a preliminary report of the damage caused by Iota, which reached El Salvador ion Wednesday as a tropical depression, the Permanent Contingency Commission (COPECO) said 61,228 Hondurans had been forced to evacuate to 750 shelters, reports Xinhua news agency.
Heavy rain caused 42 rivers and streams to overflow, damaged two bridges and cut off two towns.
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.
The US National Hurricane Centre warned of “life-threatening flash flooding” across portions of Central America, due to heavy rainfall from Iota’s tail.
“Flooding and mudslides across portions of Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala could be exacerbated by saturated soils in place, resulting in significant to potentially catastrophic impacts,” the NHC said.
It also triggered four massive landslides and 31 road collapses, and flooding or damaging some 7,078 houses, leaving two homes completely destroyed.
The COPECO did not specify the number of deaths caused by the storm, but local media have reported three so far based on regional reports from relief agencies.
COPECO said it would maintain a nationwide red alert, issued on November 15, indefinitely, as potential landslides continued to present a danger.
Honduras was also battered by tropical storm Eta earlier this month that left 57 people dead and eight others missing.
Nicaragua has so far suffered the highest death toll from Iota. The giant hurricane slammed the country on Monday at its most powerful, leaving 18 dead, including two children who were trying to cross a river in the south, authorities said.
The bodies of three of the victims were recovered after a landslide in the northern department of Matagalpa, and three others died in floods in Carazo in the west.
Among the 14 dead in Honduras were five members of the same family killed when their home was swept away in a landslide in El Trapiche.
Another two people died in the Colombian Caribbean archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, as well as one woman in the indigenous community of Ngabe Bugle in Panama, where about 2,000 people hunkered down in shelters even as rains began to ease.
In San Salvador, presidential official Carolina Recinos said “prevention work” along with timely evacuations prevented the country suffering more victims.
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.
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele declared a 15-day state of emergency to cope with the effects of the storm, which he estimated to have caused $200 million in damage, but which weakened later in the day as it moved into Guatemala.
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.
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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