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Tropical Storm Eta Dumps Massive Rainfall On Central America

Men walk along a flooded road after the River Chirichil overflowed following heavy rains caused by Hurricane Eta in Toyos, Honduras, on Wednesday.
Men walk along a flooded road after the River Chirichil overflowed following heavy rains caused by Hurricane Eta in Toyos, Honduras, on Wednesday.

Tropical Storm Eta, which hit Nicaragua's coast as a powerful Category 4 hurricane continues dumping heavy rain on the region, washing out roads to remote communities and bringing life-threatening flash floods.

In its 10 a.m. ET advisory, the U.S.-based National Hurricane Center, placed the center of Eta about 135 miles north-northeast of the capital, Managua, with sustained winds of 50 miles per hour. It was moving west at 7 mph and was expected to pick up speed later in the day.

In Bilwi, a town of around 60,000 where the hurricane made landfall on Tuesday, residents are still without power. Tens of thousands lost their homes, most built of wood with corrugated metal roofs. At least three people were killed by landslides, including two gold miners in Nicaragua and a 13-year-old girl in neighboring Honduras.

The torrential rainfall caused a wall to collapse, bringing waist-level flood waters to a prison in the northern Honduran city of El Progreso, forcing the evacuation of more than 600 inmates, Reuters reports, quoting the local police commissioner.

In Honduras, rivers and towns on the Atlantic coast flooded and landslides made roads impassable. Even so, Nicaragua's Vice President Rosario Murillo said the initial damage was less than feared.

Cairo Jarquin, emergency response project manager in Nicaragua for Catholic Relief Services, said the immediate concern was getting food and water to northeastern Nicaragua's remote communities, many of which may now be cut off by flood waters.

Although significantly reduced in strength, the NHC warned that Eta, one of the most powerful storms to strike Central America since the deadly Hurricane Mitch in 1998 continued to pose concerns. as it is expected to drop an additional 10 to 20 inches of rain on Nicaragua and Honduras, and 15 to 25 inches on eastern Guatemala and Belize, with significant amounts also portions of Panama and Costa Rica.

Later in the week, Eta was expected to take a right turn back over the Caribbean, re-organize, after which it could hit Cuba over the weekend and possibly Florida by Monday.

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