Hurricane Eta left at least 150 dead or missing in Guatemala, the heaviest toll in Central America, before returning to the Caribbean Sea where, now weakened in a tropical depression, it should strengthen to threaten Cuba, Jamaica and Florida .
The indigenous village of Queja in northern Guatemala was almost completely buried in a landslide. “We estimate that between dead and missing the (still) unofficial figures amount to more or less 150 dead,” Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said at a press conference.
In total, Eta has left nearly 180 dead or missing and thousands of victims in six Central American countries.
First Nicaragua, soon Cuba
Eta, which made landfall Tuesday on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua in a powerful category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 km / h, gradually weakened as it passed Nicaragua and Honduras. Its torrential rains affected the six countries of Central America. The hurricane is expected to hit Cuba on Sunday, according to the US Hurricane Monitoring Center NHC. It also threatens southeastern Mexico, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and southern Florida.
In Nicaragua, dozens of victims wander in the rubble of their homes that were submerged by torrential rains and their tin roofs swept away by hurricane squalls. The port city of Bilwi, the main city in the north of Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, is isolated from the rest of the country by the flooding of the coastal river Wawa, which can now only be crossed by boat.
No doubt more victims
The hurricane killed two workers at a gold mine, but authorities have not drawn up a full toll of the damage, Nicaraguan Vice-President Rosario Murillo admitted.
Eight people have died in Honduras, buried in collapsed homes, or drowned in floods, and there could be more casualties, warned Marvin Aparicio, head of the Copeco Disaster Commission. The valley of San Pedro Sula, the second city and industrial capital of Honduras, is still submerged in water on Friday and more than 7,000 people were evacuated and housed in shelters.
Climate change is causing the surface water temperatures of the oceans to rise, which favors the formation of more powerful cyclones and hurricanes that bring more rains, particularly threatening for populations, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Change climate change (IPCC).