Fuel shortage hampers evacuation as Hurricane Iota threatens Central America catastrophe

By Gustavo Palencia TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Hurricane Iota exploded into a catastrophic Category 5 storm on Monday before it slams into a remote Central American coastal region, where efforts to evacuate villagers were hampered by shortages of fuel for boats. Iota is due to collide with northeastern Nicaragua on Monday night and was packing maximum sustained winds of 160 miles (260 km) per hour, reaching category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Reuters November 17, 2020 00:06:19 IST
Fuel shortage hampers evacuation as Hurricane Iota threatens Central America catastrophe

Fuel shortage hampers evacuation as Hurricane Iota threatens Central America catastrophe

By Gustavo Palencia

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Hurricane Iota exploded into a catastrophic Category 5 storm on Monday before it slams into a remote Central American coastal region, where efforts to evacuate villagers were hampered by shortages of fuel for boats.

Iota is due to collide with northeastern Nicaragua on Monday night and was packing maximum sustained winds of 160 miles (260 km) per hour, reaching category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The hurricane was located about 100 miles (160 km) east-southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua in the Miskito region.

The Miskito people are descendants of indigenous groups and Africans believed to have escaped from shipwrecked slave ships.

Local authorities and the navy frantically tried to get thousands of families to higher ground or ports in the watery Miskito region of jungles, rivers and coastline, which straddles both Nicaragua and Honduras.

"The biggest problem we have right now is that we don't have fuel to keep on evacuating people" on boats, said Teonela Wood, mayor of Honduras' Brus Laguna municipality, which she said was home to more than 17,000 people.

Douglas Espinal, emergency services chief in nearby Puerto Lempira, said the fuel shortages stemmed from evacuation and rescue efforts during Hurricane Eta, which slammed into the Miskito region earlier in November before dumping rain across a large swath of Central America, destroying crops and killing dozens in landslides and flooding.

Espinal said a little extra fuel had arrived on Sunday, allowing him to make some evacuation runs, and that villagers were also making their own way to seek shelter in Puerto Lempira.

The unprecedented 2020 hurricane season comes as Central America is facing an economic crisis linked to the coronavirus

pandemic, with experts warning the compounding hardship could

worsen infections, spread hunger, and fuel a new round of migration from the region.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Additional reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.