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Nate storm kills 22 in Central America and threatens US

Ⓒ AFP – INTI OCON – | Nate Damage on the Beach in Masachapa, Nicaragua, October 5, 2017

Tropical storm Nate has killed 22 and nearly 30 disappeared in Central America and now threatens Mexico and the United States where it could turn into a hurricane.

Nate killed eleven people in Nicaragua, eight in Costa Rica and three in Honduras, according to local authorities.

The record remains provisional, with seven persons missing in Nicaragua, 17 in Costa Rica and three in Honduras.

The rains caused dantesque scenes of uprooted trees, collapsed bridges, roads transformed into rivers and houses flooded in the three affected countries.

Ⓒ AFP – Anella RETA – | The Nate Storm

Nicaragua is the most affected country. The government’s vice-president and spokesperson, Rosario Murillo, estimates that more than 10,000 people have suffered the consequences of the floods and mudslides that have damaged many homes in some 30 municipalities.

Schools and administrations were shut down in Costa Rica, where a state of emergency was declared and many major roads were rendered impracticable. More than 5,000 people have had to leave their homes under the threat of landslides, Ivan Brenes, head of emergency services, said.

“The rains will continue, the soils are saturated and the risk of mudslides or floods persists,” he said, calling on the population to be aware of the risks that surround it and to take into account calls for evacuation.

The government also called on the population to take precautions because crocodiles living in coastal rivers can approach houses because of flooding.

Ⓒ AFP – INTI OCON – | Locals watch flooding caused by Nate storm, October 5, 2017 in Masachapa, Nicaragua

The Costa Rican police said a three-year-old girl was carried away by a mudslide. And among the missing are the crews of two fishing boats that sank amid strong waves in the Pacific.

The international airport remains open but many flights have been canceled. The qualifying match for the 2018 football World Cup between Costa Rica and Honduras, scheduled Friday in San José, has also been postponed to Saturday.

– The United States on alert –

The US hurricane center (NHC) said the tropical storm, located on eastern Honduras on Thursday night, would continue its northerly course, decreasing in intensity as it crossed the mainland before regaining it at sea.

The NHC estimates that the storm will be “close to the intensity of a hurricane” when it reaches the Yucatan peninsula (eastern Mexico) on Friday evening.

Ⓒ AFP – INTI OCON – | Workers evacuate the debris left by Nate storm on an El Crucero road on 5 October 2017 in Nicaragua

It is expected to grow stronger and turn into a hurricane over the weekend as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico, where oil and gas platforms have been evacuated before reaching the southern United States and hitting states Louisiana and Florida.

“We anticipate its impact,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, who declared a state of emergency.

Preventive evacuation advice was given in low-lying areas of New Orleans, where the mayor of this city accustomed to flooding said he intended to ask President Donald Trump to declare the state of natural disaster before the passage of the hurricane.

Nate could be the third hurricane to hit the US in less than two months, after the Harvey passages in August in Texas and Irma in September in Florida.

The rainy season, which runs for five months in Central America, will only end in November. This year, some regions received up to 50% more rain in September and October than average.

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