Iota follows Eta's damage in Nicaragua

MARLON GONZALEZ
·2-min read

Two weeks after the destructive Hurricane Eta, Nicaragua's Carribean coast and stretches of the Honduras have been battered by Hurricane Iota, with authorities struggling to assess damage.

Iota has diminished to a tropical storm and was moving inland over northern Nicaragua and southern Honduras, but forecasters warned its heavy rains still posed a threat of flooding and mudslides.

The storm passed about 40 kilometres south-southwest of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, where rivers were rising and rain was expected to intensify. Residents of low-lying, flood-prone areas were being evacuated, as were residents of hillside neighbourhoods vulnerable to landslides.

Mirna Wood, a representative of the Miskito ethnic group in Honduras' far east region, was in Tegucigalpa collecting donations for her community ravaged by Eta when Iota hit.

In her last communication with the mayor of the community of Villeda Morales, he told her Iota was hitting them hard and the community had not completely evacuated.

"We are facing an incredible emergency," Wood said. "There is no food. There is no water."

In Nicaragua where the storm hit as a Category 4 hurricane on Monday, the extent of the damage remains unclear because much of the affected region was without electricity as well as phone and internet service, and strong winds hampered radio transmissions.

Iota made landfall just 25 kilometres south of where Hurricane Eta hit on November 3, also as a Category 4 storm. Eta caused 130 deaths in the region.

Preliminary reports from the coast included toppled trees and electric poles and roofs stripped from homes and businesses, said Guillermo Gonzalez, director of Nicaragua's emergency management agency. More than 40,000 people were in shelters.

Later, Nicaraguan Vice President and first lady Rosario Murillo said that a brother and sister, ages 11 and 8, had drowned in the community of La Pinuela trying to cross the swollen Solera River. There were reports of others missing in the same area.

Panama reported that one person was killed and another missing in its western Indigenous autonomous Ngabe Bugle area near the border with Costa Rica.

Even before Iota hit Nicaragua, it scraped over the tiny Colombian island of Providencia, more than 250 kilometres off Nicaragua's coast. Colombian President Ivan Duque said one person was killed and 98 per cent of the island's infrastructure was "affected."

Providencia is inhabited almost exclusively by the descendants of African slaves and British colonisers, who speak an English version of Creole as their native language. On Tuesday, Colombian officials said they were sending a ship with 15 tons of aid to the island.

Iota is the record 30th named storm of this year's historically busy Atlantic hurricane season.