Tropical Storm Matthew drenches Central America
Friday, September 24, 2021 10:17 PM

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(Source: Associated Press/AP Online)By FREDDY CUEVAS

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - Honduras and Nicaragua evacuated thousands of people from the path of Tropical Storm Matthew on Friday as it drenched Central America's Caribbean coast and impoverished areas prone to disastrous flooding.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Matthew could bring 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) of rain to Nicaragua and Honduras, with the possibility of flash floods and mud slides. Some parts of Nicaragua already were coping with flooding due to earlier rains.

The center said the storm was moving inland over Honduras late Friday and was heading northwest toward Guatemala with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph).

Nicaraguan authorities said they ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people.

In Honduras, authorities said they had evacuated 300 people from small communities in the Gracias a Dios province, on the border with Nicaragua. Lisandro Rosales, head of the country's Contingencies Commission said a red alert had been declared for the five neighboring provinces of Colon, Islas de la Bahia, Atlantida, Yoro and Olancho.

The storm first hit land Friday afternoon over northeastern Nicaragua. A tropical storm watch also was in effect for the coast of Belize.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega ordered the preventive measures and "all emergency structures are on alert," Lt. Col. Freddy Herrera told The Associated Press by telephone. "We have evacuated people from the region of Cabo Gracias a Dios and the Miskito Cays" in the same region.

Flights into the area were suspended due to limited visibility, though the winds are moderate, the military said.

In Honduras, the government declared a state of preventive alert throughout the country and Defense Minister Marlon Pascua said the army was ready to help civil defense actions.

The defense minister said armed forces are ready, and the Red Cross reported 3,000 aid workers in place. Civil defense officials in El Salvador were taking precautions, including canceling classes in high-risk areas, and Costa Rican authorities also reported being on a high level of alert for increased precipitation in flood-risk zones along the central Pacific coast.

Meanwhile far out over the Atlantic, Lisa became the seventh hurricane of the season and was drifting slowly north with maximum sustained winds near 75 mph (120 kph).

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