Iota, a hurricane turned tropical storm, weakened Wednesday, November 18 in El Salvador. In its path, the storm killed at least 14 people and caused enormous damage in Central America, already devastated two weeks ago by a previous hurricane, Eta.
On Wednesday, the Nicaraguan authorities announced the death of four people, including three children, in a landslide in the department of Matagalpa (north).
This country, where tens of thousands of people are still isolated, without access to drinking water and without electricity, is paying the heaviest price, ten people in total having lost their lives. Iota also killed one in Panama, one in El Salvador and two others in a Colombian archipelago.
The Salvadoran environment ministry announced that, according to forecasts, Iota had lost its intensity during its passage in El Salvador. But heavy rains continued to fall in northern Nicaragua.
After amassing energy in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, Iota made landfall in that country on Monday as a Category 5 hurricane, the highest on the Saffir-Simpson scale. It was then accompanied by high winds sometimes reaching 260 km / hour, according to the US hurricane monitoring center, the National Hurricane Center (NHC), which is headquartered in Miami, Florida.
“Really significant damage”
A government official for the Nicaraguan Autonomous Region of the North Caribbean Coast, Yamil Zapata, said on Wednesday that Iota had hit infrastructure hard in Bilwi, the main city in that part of Nicaragua.
This hurricane “Arrived and completed” to destroy “What Eta had left standing”, explained Mr. Zapata, adding that many homes were damaged.
“The damage is really important”, assured Mr. Zapata to a local media. Bilwi, which has more than 40,000 inhabitants, was however able to recover the use of cell phones on Tuesday and the victims began to clean up the rubble on Wednesday.
“There is nothing left, the hurricane swept away all the houses that were on the coast”said Esteban Moore, who lost his home himself. More than 110,000 homes are without electricity and more than 47,000 no longer have running water, according to the Nicaraguan authorities.
For its part, Honduras, where the tropical storm had arrived on Tuesday, suffered flooding, but does not deplore any casualties, the storm having swept faster than expected the south of its territory.
The capital, Tegucigalpa, which has a population of one million, was spared the torrential rains, but the flooding of rivers caused scenes of panic in its poor outskirts.
The towns of La Lima, El Progreso and other localities in the Sula Valley, near San Pedro Sula, the second largest agglomeration in Honduras, already reached by Eta, suffered the most violent rains.
Heavy rains also fell in Guatemala, where the previous hurricane left 46 people dead and 96 missing, with rivers swollen and trees fallen on the roads, but no casualties, according to the authorities.
In Colombia, two people were killed and another was reported missing on two Colombian islands, Santa Catalina and Providencia, where much of the infrastructure was destroyed.
In Panama, a woman from an indigenous community has perished and some 2,000 people are staying in shelters, authorities said. Flooding and flash flooding could continue in Central America through Thursday due to torrential rains, according to the NHC.
Eta made landfall on November 3 in Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane. It killed at least 200 people and affected 2.5 million people in Central America.
Warming seas, caused by climate change, make hurricanes stronger for longer after they make landfall, scientists say. A record 30 tropical storms have been recorded this season in the Caribbean, Central America and the southeastern United States.
The heads of state of Central American countries have accused industrialized countries of being responsible for global warming. They together presented a request for reconstruction aid to international financial organizations on Monday.