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  • A handout photo made available by the Civil Defense shows the floods in Quibdo, Colombia, 15 November 2020.

    A handout photo made available by the Civil Defense shows the floods in Quibdo, Colombia, 15 November 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 19 November 2020
Opinion

The death toll from storm Iota is slowly rising in Central America as authorities on Thursday said they had recovered more bodies buried in landslides triggered by flooding that swept through the already saturated region earlier this week.

Hit by two intense hurricanes within the same month, Central America is slowly beginning the recovery process, while the numbers of deaths gradually increase. Along with Colombia, the region has reported nearly 40 deaths, and this figure is likely to rise as rescue teams reach isolated communities. Most of the deaths have occurred in Nicaragua and Honduras.

RELATED:

Hurricane Iota Wreaks Havoc in Central America

The strongest storm on record to hit Nicaragua, Iota, struck the coast late on Monday as a Category 4 hurricane. It flooded low-lying areas still reeling from Eta's impact two weeks ago, another major storm that killed dozens of people in the region.

In Honduras, authorities raised the death toll to 14 on Thursday, after confirming that eight members of two families, including four children, were killed when a landslide buried their homes in a village in a mountainous region populated by indigenous Lencas near the border with El Salvador.

In Nicaragua, where 18 people have been confirmed dead, rescue efforts continue after a landslide in the north of the country killed eight people, with more missing.

While Iota largely dissipated over El Salvador on Wednesday, authorities struggled to cope with the fallout from days of heavy rain.

 

Numerous villages from northern Colombia to southern Mexico saw record rainfall swell rivers and trigger mudslides. Cities like the Honduran industrial hub of San Pedro Sula were also hit hard. The city’s airport was completely flooded, and jetways were looking more like docks, a video posted on social media showed.

Some 160,000 Nicaraguans and 70,000 Hondurans have been forced to flee to shelters, where aid workers worry the chaotic conditions could lead to fresh outbreaks of COVID-19.

Experts say the destruction caused by the unprecedented 2020 hurricane season in Central America could spur more migration out of a region already coping with insecurity and an economic crisis triggered by coronavirus pandemic-related lockdowns imposed earlier this year.

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