BLUEFIELDS (Nicaragua) • Central America has suffered a hurricane and offshore earthquake at the same time, forcing thousands to evacuate in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica and causing an undetermined number of deaths.
Nicaragua was caught in the middle of both events, with Hurricane Otto, a storm packing sustained winds of up to 175kmh, slamming into the nation's Caribbean coast on Thursday while a 7-magnitude quake occurred in the Pacific Ocean off its other coast.
President Daniel Ortega declared a state of emergency, but by yesterday there were no reports of widespread destruction. Only fallen trees and electrical cables and a few collapsed roofs were reported.
However, in Costa Rica, President Luis Guillermo Solis said late on Thursday that there had been a number of deaths, although it was too early to say how many people had died.
"I regret to inform you... that there are people dead and missing," Mr Solis told a news conference.
Soon after the storm landed, the quake struck 149km south-west of Puerto Triunfo, El Salvador, at a depth of 10.3km, the US Geological Survey said.
There were no reports of major damage from the quake in El Salvador, but local emergency services ordered the coastal population to move inland up to 1km from the shore.
In Panama, eight people had lost their lives during the storm in recent days, said Mr Jose Donderis, director of the national civil protection service.
Otto had become a tropical storm by early yesterday, the US National Hurricane Centre said, with its maximum sustained winds slowing to about 120kmh.