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Tropical storm Eta on Tuesday demonstrated Central American countries' vulnerability to natural disasters after passing through Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala.
Tropical storm Eta wrought chaos after plowing into Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane last Tuesday with winds of 241 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) before weakening to a tropical depression unleashing torrents of rain on regions of Honduras and Guatemala.
The heavy rain associated with the storm might have killed at least 200 people in landslides in Central America and the Caribbean. Floodwaters and heavy rains also left thousands missing in the devastated region.
On Monday, the Nicaraguan government reported preliminary damages worth US$128 million, where 1,890 homes were ravaged, and 8,030 had partial damages, in addition to cracks in 45 schools and 16 health units.
The city of Bilwi was heavily damaged, with the Nuevo Amanecer Regional Hospital, the drinking water treatment plant, the Puerto Cabezas international pier, and 24.39% of the National System of protected areas hit. Eta struck Bilwi, head of the North Caribbean Autonomous Region, and Haulover's town in the mid-afternoon of November 3 as a category four hurricane, with 230 km/h winds.
Eta, one of the most powerful storms to strike Central America in years, hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane before weakening as it swept over neighboring Honduras. More photos from the aftermath: https://t.co/wzQRDzl5O8 �� Jorge Cabrera pic.twitter.com/gXqsgO65Cp
Amid this situation, the United Nations Children's Fund warned that Covid-19 infections could go up in Honduras. This because it is hard to respect both physical and social distancing after infrastructure conditions in shelters.
The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED), for its part, pointed out the damage caused by Eta in Guatemala was mostly felt in 10 departments, with about 70,000 rescued citizens.
Honduras has been the worst affected in Eta’s path, with an estimated 20% of the population impacted by the storm. Authorities confirmed Monday that 57 people were killed in landslides or drowned in rivers. Many were children.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was grateful for the support received from Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, China, and Colombia, among others.
"My thanks on behalf of the Honduran people, to the friendly countries that have extended their hand of solidarity in these difficult times," he wrote on Twitter. “Very soon, we will move from rescue work and attention to the reconstruction of the country, making Honduras stronger and fairer for all.”
In Guatemala, at least 42 people died in mudslides, but authorities warned the figure could rise dramatically. More than 100 people are missing, and thousands of families have been evacuated from their homes, according to the disaster reduction authority, Conred.
The storm also claimed lives in Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Belize, and Mexico.