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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.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 12, 2020 - Science

Tropical Storm Eta brings more heavy rains and storm surge to Florida

A cyclist rides through the flooded street during heavy rain and wind as Tropical Storm Eta approaches the south of Florida, in Miami, Florida, for on Monday. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Tropical Storm Eta was unleashing more strong winds, heavy rains and "dangerous storm surge" over parts of Florida early Thursday, ahead of an expected second landfall in the state, per the National Hurricane Center.

The state of play: Eta was pummeling Florida's west coast overnight after briefly strengthening into a Category 1 hurricane offshore from the state's southwest. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) tweeted Wednesday evening that FEMA had granted his request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration.

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.

What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record speed, but some experts fear the accelerated regulatory process could interfere with ongoing research about the vaccines.

Why it matters: Even after the first COVID-19 vaccines are deployed, scientific questions will remain about how they are working and how to improve them.