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Many of the dead were buried in their homes in a remote village, where mudslides had swallowed about 150 houses.
One of the fiercest storms to hit Central America in years, Eta on Friday dumped more torrential rain across large parts of Central America, and the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned “catastrophic flooding” in the region would continue.
The death toll in Central America from the devastating storm has soared after the Guatemalan military reached a remote mountainous village where torrential rains had triggered catastrophic mudslides. The Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei estimated the total number of dead and missing to approach 150.
“At this moment we calculate that, between the dead and those missing, non-official figures put it at more or less 150 dead, and we say non-official because we don’t have it totally confirmed,” the president said. Giammattei earlier added that bad weather was hampering rescue efforts, which were further limited by the country having only one helicopter for the job.
El cliclón “Eta” devasta regiones en Centroamérica
El huracán causó más de 50 muertos en Guatemala y más de una decena de fallecidos en Honduras. Dejó devastadas zonas enteras en varios puntos de Centroamérica, donde se reportan inundaciones y corrimientos de tierra. /ft pic.twitter.com/qHIO13Rlem
"The hurricane caused more than 50 deaths in Guatemala and more than a dozen deaths in Honduras. It left devastated areas in several parts of Central America, where floods and landslides are reported."
Rescue operations across Honduras and Guatemala have been slowed by destroyed roads and bridges, forcing authorities to draft in the military and use helicopters and speedboats to rescue people stranded on top of their houses.
Eta wrought chaos after plowing into Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday with winds of 241 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) before weakening to a tropical depression and unleashing torrents of rain on regions of Honduras and Guatemala.
Across swathes of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Costa Rica, strong winds and heavy rain have damaged hundreds, if not thousands, of homes, forcing people to take cover in shelters. Flash flooding and river overflows were also possible across Jamaica, southeast Mexico, the Cayman Islands, and western Cuba.
On Friday morning, the storm's eye was on the edge of Belize’s coast and heading out to the Caribbean Sea, charting a course to Cuba and Florida this weekend, the NHC said. But remnants of Eta will continue to batter portions of Central America with “catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding,” the NHC said.
El ciclón tropical #Eta��⛈️ ha dejado hasta la fecha cientos de afectados en Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala y Panamá