Hurricane Iota leaves 41 dead in Central America; 4.6 million affected
The Central American countries on Thursday made a recount of the devastation caused by the passage of cyclone Iota, the second to hit the region this month, which left at least 41 dead in landslides and floods.
Iota hit the North Caribbean of Nicaragua on Monday as a category five hurricane, the maximum power, two weeks after Cyclone Eta hit the same area, leaving at least 200 dead and 2.5 million affected.
The initial balances show 41 deaths caused by Iota : 18 of them in Nicaragua, 14 in Honduras, five in Guatemala, two in the Colombian archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, one in Panama and another in El Salvador.
Around 4.6 million people were affected in Central America, including 1.8 million children, according to initial estimates from the UN Children's Fund (Unicef).
Bilwi, the main city in the North Caribbean of Nicaragua, remained isolated, without water or electricity, and food was starting to run short, according to an AFP team in the area.
The rescue units resumed Thursday the search for bodies buried on Tuesday after a landslide in the mountains of Peñas de Blanca, in the Nicaraguan department of Matagalpa (north), where recognized until the ninth time dead, including six children.
To come here and find my daughter and my wife dead. She was my only girl, the father of the minor, Orlando Navarrete, said in tears to a local media.
According to the government, Iota left "catastrophic" damage to the infrastructure of the country, one of the poorest in the region.
Some 250 municipal brigades launched this Thursday to collect debris and fallen trees throughout Nicaragua, with the help of more than 450 equipment and machinery such as trucks, backhoes and dump trucks.
In Honduras, where at least 14 people died from landslides in the western department of Lempira, authorities continued the search for other possible deaths on Thursday, according to civil protection.
The northern Sula Valley, the most productive area in Honduras, was flooded, but this Thursday the water level began to drop, covering houses and the San Pedro Sula airport.
The downpours caused the mighty Ulúa and Chamelecón rivers to overflow, which turned the Sula valley into an immense lagoon.
In Guatemala, President Alejandro Giammattei met with his cabinet to assess the situation in the country, where several communities were flooded and the rains destroyed bridges and roads.
According to Guatemalan civil protection , Iota left five dead, three missing, 3,558 people sheltered, 2,683 houses damaged and numerous bridges and roads affected.
Even in El Salvador, little hit by the two cyclones, 15 communities were without electricity and there was damage to the water service of nine communities. The landslides also blocked seven highways, according to Presidential Commissioner Carolina Recinos.
Central American governments this week called for international aid to deal with the devastation of the cyclones, and in response, the European Union announced that it will allocate $ 10.7 million to Nicaragua from a multi-donor trust fund.
Likewise, the US agency for international cooperation announced a support of 17 million dollars for the region.
Unicef also made an urgent appeal to raise 42.6 million dollars to cover the humanitarian needs of the region.
For its part, the Red Cross announced that this Friday it will begin to move a field hospital, water treatment plants and hygiene supplies to Honduras to serve 50,000 people.
Climate change causes an increase in temperature in the surface layers of the oceans, which generates more powerful and water-filled hurricanes and storms that constitute a more dangerous threat to coastal communities, according to studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).