November 9, 2020 – Tropical Storm Eta is forecast to become a hurricane as it returns to the Gulf of Mexico after hitting the Florida Keys and Cuba. The storm earlier left a death toll in Central America.
Eta had maximum sustained winds of 100km/h on Sunday night and was centred about 45km east-northeast of Marathon, Florida. It was moving west-northwest at 22km/h.
The storm swelled rivers and flooded coastal zones in Cuba, where 25,000 had been evacuated. But there were no reports of deaths.
Eta earlier hit Cuba, even as searchers in Guatemala were still digging for people believed buried by a massive, rain-fuelled landslide. Authorities on Sunday raised the known death toll there to 27 from 15 and said more than 100 were missing in Guatemala, many of them in the landslide in San Cristobal Verapaz.
At least 20 people also were reported dead in southern Mexico and local officials in Honduras reported over 40.
Eta initially hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane, and authorities from Panama to Mexico were still surveying the damages following days of torrential rains during the week.
In Guatemala, search teams first had to overcome multiple landslides and deep mud just to reach the site where officials have estimated some 150 homes were devastated.
In the worst-hit village, Quejá, at least five bodies have been pulled from the mud. The indigenous community of about 1,200 residents consisted of simple homes of wood and tin roofs clinging to the mountainside.
In southern Mexico, across the border from Guatemala, 20 people died as heavy rains attributed to Eta caused mudslides and swelled streams and rivers, according to Chiapas state civil defense official Elías Morales Rodríguez.
The worst incident in Mexico occurred in the mountain township of Chenalho, where 10 people were swept away by a rain-swollen stream; their bodies were later found downstream.
Flooding in the neighbouring state of Tabasco was so bad that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador cut short a trip to western Mexico and was flying to Tabasco, his home state, to oversee relief efforts.