Central America sounds alarms as Hurricane Iota strengthens into category 5

Source: Xinhua| 2020-11-17 10:59:32|Editor: huaxia

SAN JOSE, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Central American countries reactivated maximum alerts after the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Monday that Hurricane Iota strengthened into a category 5 storm as it headed again towards the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras.

In Nicaragua, heavy rains are expected to cause floods and landslides in its north Caribbean region and Chinandega, where aid convoys loaded with supplies were headed, said Guillermo Gonzalez, head of the country's National System for Prevention, Mitigation and Attention to Disasters.

"Some 80,000 families are going to be at risk from this storm at 629 sites vulnerable to flooding and 424 vulnerable to landslides," said Gonzalez.

Meanwhile, Honduras reissued a red alert to the eastern departments of Atlantida, Colon and Gracias a Dios, where recent tropical storm Eta left at least 70 people dead a few days ago.

El Salvador declared a red alert throughout its territory after Iota had gained strength, said Mario Duran, minister of the Interior and Territorial Development.

The office of Guatemala's National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction warned in its latest report that rainfall is expected to increase in the next few hours in 12 departments, where Eta has claimed over 150 lives.

Due to the potential indirect impact of Iota, Costa Rica declared a yellow alert along the entire Pacific coast and the northern part of the country, and an orange alert to some cantons in those areas, said Sigifredo Perez, director of risk management of the National Emergency Commission.

A total of 99 people displaced by Eta remain at eight shelters and have yet to be relocated, said Perez.

According to the five-tier Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, hurricanes of Category 3 or stronger are deemed major hurricanes. Enditem