Storm wreaks havoc in Central America, leaves eight dead

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TEGUCIGALPA: Storm Eta unleashed torrential rains and catastrophic flooding in Central America, killing eight in the region, turning city streets into waist-high water channels and stranding scores of people.

Families waded through flooded streets of the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, while cars sat almost submerged in parts of the central Guatemalan city of San Pedro Carcha, television footage and images posted on social media showed.

“The situation is serious, it’s shocking and needs to be dealt with professionally, fast,” Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez told HCH television, pointing to reports of people stranded in remote areas or stuck on roofs of flooded homes.

Damage and destruction had spread across the “vast majority” of the country and speedboats and helicopters would be sent to rescue people in inaccessible areas, Hernandez said.

By Thursday morning, authorities confirmed there had been at least six deaths, four of them in Guatemala and two in Honduras. Media in Nicaragua also reported two miners had died in a mudslide. Authorities have not commented on that report.

The fate of dozens of fisherman stranded off Honduras on Tuesday was still uncertain.

One of the most powerful storms to sweep down on Central America in years, Eta struck Nicaragua as a category 4 hurricane packing winds of 240 kph before weakening as it moved inland and into neighbouring Honduras.