Tropical Storm Iota barrels towards Central America as mudslide buries 10 in Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY (REUTERS) – As Tropical Storm Iota barrels towards Central America, eight people were killed or reported missing in a landslide in Guatemala, authorities said on Saturday (Nov 14), in the latest disaster triggered by this year’s unprecedented hurricane season.

Iota is expected to intensify to hurricane strength or just short of it by the time it smashes into the jungles of the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua and Honduras on Monday, even as Central America is still recovering from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Eta two weeks ago.

Eta sparked floods and mudslides that killed scores of people across a huge swath of terrain stretching from Panama to southern Mexico.

No area was harder hit than the central Guatemalan region of Alta Verapaz, where a mountain partly collapsed onto the village of Queja, killing and burying alive dozens of residents.

Early on Saturday morning, Guatemalan authorities said a mudslide buried 10 people in the state of Chiquimula near the border with Honduras.

Emergency workers have rescued two people and recovered three corpses so far, with another five people still missing.

The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) is warning Iota could unleash “life threatening” flash flooding and mudslides across northern Colombia and Central America as early as Monday.

It is expected to pack maximum winds of 177km as it approaches landfall.

At 10am EST (11pm Singapore time) Iota was about 797km east-southeast from the Nicaraguan-Honduran coast, with maximum sustained winds of 64kmh.

It was moving 8kmh in a west-southwest direction.

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