TEGUCIGALPA • Less than two weeks after powerful storm Eta killed more than 200 people across Central America, the authorities have warned that Hurricane Iota is set to wallop coastal areas of Nicaragua and Honduras today.
Iota - the latest in an unusually busy storm season - was about 700km east-south-east of the Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Nicaragua-Honduras border yesterday, moving slowly westwards with maximum sustained winds of 120kmh.
Iota was upgraded to a hurricane early yesterday, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.
This year's hurricane season has seen a record 30 named tropical storms across the Caribbean, Central America and the south-eastern United States.
Iota was expected to rapidly strengthen into a major hurricane as it approached Central America. "It is likely that the heavy rainfall from Iota, through Thursday, will lead to life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding in parts of northern Colombia and Central America," the NHC warned.
"The flooding and mudslides in Honduras and Nicaragua may be exacerbated by the recent effects of Hurricane Eta in those areas, resulting in significant impacts."
Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua announced evacuations last Friday, even as the region was still reeling from the devastation inflicted by Eta.
Eta hit the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua as a Category 4 storm, one of the strongest November storms ever recorded. River banks burst and landslides were triggered as far north as Chiapas, Mexico.
Separately, a mudslide has killed at least three people, and four others remain missing in the eastern Guatemalan municipality of Camotan, near the border with Honduras, according to Guatemala's National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction.
The agency added that Eta left more than 150 people dead and missing.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA