Disasters & Accidents

Eta causes widespread damage in Nicaragua’s Caribbean region

Managua, Nov 4 (efe-epa).- Hurricane Eta left a trail of destruction in Nicaragua’s impoverished and sparsely populated Caribbean region after making landfall as a Category 4 storm, government and independent sources said Wednesday.

There also have been reports of two deaths from the powerful hurricane – now a tropical storm over the northern part of the Central American country – although they have not been officially confirmed.

Nearly every urban area in the hardest-hit North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCN) suffered infrastructure damage from the hurricane’s torrential rains and 220-kilometer-per-hour (137-mile-per-hour) winds, according to Nicaragua’s National System for the Prevention, Mitigation and Attention of Disasters (Sinapred).

At least 10 rivers overflowed their banks, while trees, power pylons and electrical lines were knocked down and fragile roofs were ripped off of homes, Sinapred’s co-director, Guillermo Gonzalez, said on state-run media.

For his part, Energy and Mines Minister Salvador Mansell said Eta caused power outages in more than 200 localities, mainly in the RACCN, though adding that service will be restored in the coming hours.

The minister said the 30,000 people evacuated before Eta made landfall on Tuesday are still being housed in shelters and, despite reports that two artisanal miners died in a mudslide in the RACCN hours after the hurricane made landfall, stated that there were no casualties.

The volunteer-led independent Blue and White Monitoring Group, meanwhile, reported on additional damage.

In a report, it said flooded rivers left several rural communities incommunicado in northeastern Nicaragua, where a hurricane alert supposedly was not issued in a timely fashion.

The group added that people in those areas are now short on food supplies and unable to inform authorities about the situation because their cellphones are low on battery power.

Some neighborhoods in urban zones also are experiencing similar problems.

Two women (one of them elderly), a child and a baby were trapped in their home by a fallen tree and three houses were knocked down in Puerto Cabezas (Bilwi), which is located near the spot where Eta made landfall and is the RACCN’s biggest city, the Blue and White Monitoring Group reported.

It also said water levels in some of the biggest rivers in northern Nicaragua have begun to rise rapidly and that the Masachapa River burst its banks and triggered a mudslide that partially destroyed the pier and several homes in the Pacific town of Masachapa.

Referring to the impact of Eta in Nicaragua’s Pacific region, the meteorology director at the Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies, Marcio Baca, said that part of the country was suffering the indirect effects of the hurricane-turned-tropical storm.

In Nicaragua’s Pacific region, rains and winds have gradually intensified since Tuesday night.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center, for its part, said in its latest bulletin on Wednesday afternoon that T.S. Eta is currently located about 200 km (125 miles) north-northeast of Managua and is packing maximum sustained winds of around 65 km/hour (40 mph).

While the NHC said Eta is expected to weaken to a depression in a few hours as it moves into Honduras, it said the tropical storm “continues to produce life-threatening flash flooding over portions of Central America.” EFE-EPA


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