Death toll from hurricane Eta in Central America is rising

Sunday, 08 Nov, 2020

On Friday evening, Eta was off Belize's coast in the Caribbean, churning towards Cuba and Florida, the NHC said.

Moving across the northwestern Caribbean on Friday, Eta was expected to restrengthen to a tropical storm. An upper trough will be getting involved so the storm will be more subtropical in nature as it nears Florida/eastern Gulf.

The Meteorological Service of the Cayman Islands has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the territory.

© Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images A man carries a dog to safety after Eta slams Nicaragua. While most models suggest the storm stays to our south - keeping the threat for damaging winds fairly low - there is still the potential for the storm to cut directly through the area at a higher intensity, leading to more widespread power outages and wind damage. Rainfall amounts between Friday and Monday are expected to range between 6 and 10 inches.

Citing preliminary reports, President Alejandro Giammattei said "150 homes have been buried with 100 people dead" in the remote northern village of Queja.

The scenes out of the country are heartbreaking.

"We know there are a lot of dead people, we've seen them, but until we receive official information we can't certify them", explained Marvin Aparicio, head of the agency's incident command system.

Numerous dead are buried in their homes that have been inundated by the mudflow.

Red Cross volunteers and staff are supporting evacuation efforts, rescuing people trapped by the floods and monitoring rivers as water levels rise.

"The rains will continue for three or four more days", mainly in northeast Guatemala, David de León, spokesman for the Disaster Reduction Coordinator (Conred), told AFP.

It's a similar scene in Honduras.

Lancha rescatando personas en Honduras
Eta still causing heavy rainfall; Cayman under Tropical Storm Watch

It had been raining hard since Monday even though Eta's centre didn't enter Honduras until Wednesday.

It will be days before the true toll of Eta is known.

Severe flooding has forced people to put whatever they could save on higher ground. The country's infrastructure has taken a pounding too: Nine bridges have collapsed, 51 roads damaged and 41 communities are now isolated.

Insurance penetration in numerous regions along Eta's path is extremely low or non-existence, while many of these same regions continue to endure poverty and limited resources already exacerbated by COVID-19. It was forecast to spread heavy rain from Central America to southeastern Mexico and from Jamaica to the Cayman Islands.

At least 200 dead in MexicoThe rains of tropical depression Eta and cold front number 11 have left at least 80,000 affected and at least 12 deaths in the Mexican southeast.

The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that forecasters expect Eta to curl north toward South Florida over the weekend, after which it will be yanked back west into the Gulf of Mexico.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Cuban provinces of La Habana, Artemisa y Mayabeque, Pinar del Rio, and the Isle of Youth; Sebastian Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita Beach, Lake Okeechobee, Florida Keys and Florida Bay.

He urged Florida residents to pay attention to the forecast. Its torrential rains battered economies already strangled by the COVID-19 pandemic, took all from those who had little and laid bare the shortcomings of governments unable to aid their citizens and pleading for worldwide assistance.

Flash flooding is possible across the Bahamas and Southern Florida.

The area around Queja appeared to be the site of a huge landslide on a road pass a decade ago, which killed dozens, Tellez said.

Eta made landfall in Nicaragua on Tuesday as a Category 4 hurricane, packing winds of 150 miles per hour (241 kilometers per hour).