Nov 7, 2020 - World

Storm Eta: At least 150 believed to be dead or missing in Guatemala

People wade through the water in a flooded area in Panzos, Alta Verapaz, 220 km north of Guatemala City on November 6, 2020 after the passage of Hurricane Eta -now degraded to a tropical storm.
People wade through the water in a flooded area in Panzos, Alta Verapaz, in Guatemala. Photo: Johan Ordonez/AFP

At least 150 are believed to be dead or missing in Guatemala after Tropical Depression Eta brought torrential rain to Central America, triggering devastating flooding and mudslides, per Reuters.

The big picture: Eta, which made landfall in Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday, was expected to strengthen overnight as it moved northeast toward Cuba, the Cayman Islands, parts of the Bahamas and southern Florida, the National Hurricane Center said late on Friday.

The state of play: Rescue efforts continued Friday across Guatemala and Honduras where homes have been buried under mud and villages cut off due to flooded roadways and washed out bridges.

  • Guatemalan army spokesperson Ruben Tellez said Friday that at least 150 houses were buried under mud in the remote village of Queja, located in the central department of Alta Verapaz, per Reuters.
  • Guatemalan officials added the death toll could climb as roughly 150 are believed to be dead or missing in Queja alone.
  • At least 23 people have been killed in Honduras, officials said Friday evening, per Reuters. Many people in Honduras remained trapped on the roofs of their homes.

What they're saying:

  • Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández tweeted on Friday: "We will not stop reaching the last corner of the country where [the people] need us."
  • Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei wrote on Twiter: "I want to tell Guatemalans that they are not alone, we are united ... I have faith that we are going to rise up, because our will is greater than any natural disaster."

What to watch: Tropical storm conditions are expected this weekend in parts of the Cayman Islands and Cuba, NHC said.

  • “There is an increasing risk of impacts from wind and flash and urban flooding due to heavy rainfall in portions of southern Florida, the Florida Keys, and portions of the Bahamas this weekend and early next week,” NHC added.
  • Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez declared state of emergency on Friday in anticipation of the storm's arrival.
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