Storm death toll rises in Central America

Gustavo Palencia and Ismael Lopez
·1-min read

Authorities in Central America have recovered more bodies from landslides triggered by Hurricane Iota, which battered the impoverished region this week, the second deadly storm to roar through this month.

The number of reported deaths rose to more than 40 across Central America and Colombia, and the toll is expected to rise as rescue workers reach isolated communities. Most of the deaths occurred in Nicaragua and Honduras.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez issued an urgent plea for international help.

"We are in a situation of great calamity and we need the world to help us rebuild our country," he told a news conference on Thursday.

The strongest storm on record to hit Nicaragua, Iota struck the coast late on Monday as a category four hurricane. It inundated low-lying areas still reeling from the impact two weeks ago of Eta, another major hurricane that killed dozens of people in the region.

More details from the toll that Iota inflicted came to light on Thursday.

Honduran authorities said eight members of two families, including four children, were killed when a landslide buried their homes in a village near the border with El Salvador.

Those deaths raised the Honduras toll to 14.

In Nicaragua, where at least 21 people have been confirmed dead, rescue efforts were focused on a landslide in the north of the country that killed eight people, with more missing.

While Iota largely dissipated over El Salvador on Wednesday, authorities struggled to cope with the fallout from days of heavy rain.

Numerous villages from northern Colombia to southern Mexico saw record rainfall swell rivers and trigger mudslides.

About 160,000 Nicaraguans and 74,000 Hondurans have been forced to flee to shelters, where aid workers worry the chaotic conditions could lead fresh outbreaks of coronavirus.