27 de noviembre de 2020
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Colombian island of Providencia devastated by Iota

Bogotá, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- The Colombian island of Providencia, a 17-square-kilometer paradise in the Caribbean Sea, has been almost entirely devastated by the powerful Hurricane Iota, which destroyed infrastructure and left at least two people dead and one missing, as President Iván Duque verified Tuesday.

"We have a severe impact on the infrastructure, it is true – we have destruction of a large part of the housing infrastructure," said the president, who visited the islands of San Andrés and Providencia, located off the coast of Nicaragua, more than 700 kilometers from mainland Colombia.

In the first released images of Providencia, about 90 kilometers northeast of the archipelago’s main island of San Andrés, houses were missing roofs, posts and fallen trees were strewn in streets covered with debris, and boats had been dragged by winds up to homes.

"The island was destroyed and all the houses were erased. No house was left standing. Everything is destroyed," said Adrián Villamizar, pastor of the Adventist Church who was evacuated from Providencia, an island inhabited by some 5,000 people that still has no communication with the rest of the country.

At dawn on Monday, Providencia took the impact of a category 5 Iota, which, with winds of 250 kilometers per hour, plowed from east to west towards Nicaragua.

According to Villamizar, the passage of Iota "had about two impressive cycles, the first until two in the morning,” and when they thought that the worst was over, "from four to six, especially at six in the morning,” when there was another onslaught in which they thought "we were not going to make it."

During his visit to the archipelago, Duque was able to verify the devastating toll that the mayor of Providencia, Jorge Norberto Gari Hooker, provided him with Monday – that the force of the hurricane destroyed almost all of the constructions of the island.

The president confirmed that Iota had left two people dead, one in Providencia and the other on the nearby island of Santa Catalina.

"There is a person who is missing and a search is being carried out," added the president, who said that some of the wounded had already been evacuated to San Andrés in the same Colombian Air Force plane that had carried him.

Duque first landed on the presidential plane at the Gustavo Rojas Pinilla airport in San Andrés, where he took a tour of the island to see the damage caused by the hurricane, which although great, was less than the devastation suffered by Providencia.

He then boarded a smaller Air Force plane that took him to the El Embrujo air terminal in Providencia, where he delivered aid and listened to survivors.

While the president was touring the island, the plane returned to San Andrés to evacuate dozens of people, including sick, wounded and tourists who had been trapped.

"It is destroyed. In Providencia there is not a single house that is well – all the houses are destroyed, all the vegetation is destroyed," said Mateo Posada, a tourist from Medellín who was also evacuated to San Andrés.

According to Posada, the hotel in which he was staying with approximately 12 other tourists "had something like a bunker that had been designed for this" where they took refuge and, after the storm passed, they were able to help other people.

Duque assured that his government was mobilizing all human and technical resources to help victims and begin reconstruction.

A Navy frigate, ARC Antioquia, arrived in Providencia with food, medicine and blankets.

The frigate ARC Independiente also set sail on Monday night from Cartagena with 15 tons of humanitarian aid and more than 190 personnel from the Navy, Army, Risk Management Unit, the Red Cross and experts in emergency care, while the government prepared to send more ships and planes.

After its devastating passage through the Colombian archipelago, the hurricane continued through the Caribbean to Nicaragua, where it also caused extensive damage before losing strength and was degraded to a tropical storm. EFE-EPA

joc/tw

Contenido relacionado

Iota death toll in Nicaragua rises to 6

Managua, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- At least six people died Tuesday in Nicaragua due to the effects of Iota, previously a hurricane that made landfall last night in the Caribbean area as a category 4 cyclone.

Among the six killed are two brothers, aged 11 and 8, who died when they tried to cross an overflowing river Solera, in the department of Carazo, according to Vice President Rosario Murillo.

A father and son were buried in a landslide in the municipality of Wiwili, department of Jinotega. They were identified as Carlos and Francisco Carazo, who were in a shelter and returned home to look for their belongings when they were hit by the landslide, according to the information.

Carlos José López Méndez were killed in that same department, according to the official report.

The sixth victim is María de Jesús Duarte, who died when an area of the ravine she was standing on collapsed in the municipality of Quilalí, near the border with Honduras.

Opposition group Blue and White Monitoring has recorded at least four missing persons.

According to the authorities, Iota devastated the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (NCCAR), the poorest and most vulnerable area in Nicaragua, inhabited mostly by Miskito and Mayan indigenous people.

The authorities have not released a report on the damage caused of the passage of the hurricane in the NCCAR, because the area has been cut off, without electricity or telecommunications services.

The authorities are waiting for these services to be restored, and for better weather conditions to reach the territory, made up of eight municipalities, and which was also hit by Hurricane Eta on Nov. 3.

Bilwi (or Puerto Cabezas), the main city of the RACN, has been cut off and without electricity since Monday night after the heavy rains and hurricane-force winds caused by Iota, which also damaged telecommunications services, as confirmed by the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Postal Services.

Some of the houses that had been repaired 13 days before, after Eta, were knocked down by Iota, along with dozens of trees and electrical and telephone lines, reported the National System for Disaster Prevention, Mitigation and Assistance.

Pacific residents face an anxious wait due to the collapse of telecommunications systems in the Caribbean area, as nothing is yet known about how these populations are affected by Iota.

The eye of Iota made landfall on Monday at 10 pm local time (04:00 GMT Tuesday), in Haulover, south of Bilwi, home to about 350 families with 1,750 people, mostly indigenous people of Miskito origin.

Haulover is a community dedicated to artisanal fishing and tourism, and so far the damage caused by the hurricane that hit that area with winds of 250 kilometers per hour is unknown.

Iota, now downgraded to a tropical storm, also caused flooding in the Pacific zone of Nicaragua.

The authorities maintain a red alert for the Nicaraguan Caribbean, and yellow for the rest of the country, since it does not rule out a major disaster. EFE-EPA

lfp/tw

Hurricane Iota continues to weaken but is causing heavy CentAm flooding

Miami, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- Hurricane Iota, which on Monday night made landfall in Nicaragua as a Category 4 storm, on Tuesday is continuing to weaken as it moves across the Central American country, yet it is still bringing heavy rain, serious flooding and mudslides to the region, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported.

In its 10 am advisory, the NHC said that Iota is now a Cat 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour and occasional stronger gusts, but it will weaken to a tropical storm by Monday afternoon and to a tropical depression by Monday night.

Iota's eye is located about 135 miles east of Tegucigalpa, where it will arrive later on Monday before moving over El Salvador.

The hurricane, which after causing extensive damage in Nicaragua is predicted to be nothing more than a low pressure area by Wednesday, is moving to the west at 12 mph and is expected to continue along that track all day Monday.

Along the coastal strip extending from Sandy Bay Sirpi in Nicaragua to Punta Patuca in Honduras tropical storm conditions are expected to prevail.

The storm is predicted to continue to pose the danger of sudden and potentially catastrophic flooding as well as mudslides in the region for the next day or two, the NHC said.

According to the NHC, hurricane force winds extend out from Iota's center up to 15 miles and tropical storm force winds extend outwards for up to 175 miles.

Iota, which had winds reaching up to 155 mph, tore the roofs off of homes, knocked out the electric grid and flooded dozens of streets in Nicaragua's northern Caribbean coastal region.

The storm made landfall near Haulover, Nicaragua, where about 1,750 people live, most of them Miskito Indians who make their livings from fishing and handicrafts, earning a good bit of their income from tourism, but everyone was evacuated from the area before the storm hit and there are not yet any reports of damage.

The point where Iota made landfall is located 10 miles south of where Hurricane Eta, also a Cat 4 storm, made landfall on Nov. 3.

So far this season there have been 30 named tropical storms, 13 of which have become hurricanes, with six of them being major storms.

The Atlantic hurricane season - which this year has been significantly more active than normal - officially ends on Nov. 30.

EFE

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