Hurricane Otto kills 3, gathers strength | News | DW | 23.11.2016
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Hurricane Otto kills 3, gathers strength

The late-season storm has killed at least three people in Panama. Meterologists also predicted it would be the first hurricane to make landfall in Costa Rica in fifty years.

Although it was the tail end of hurricane season, tropical storm Otto reached hurricane strength on Wednesday as it turned towards Central American. Officials in Panama said three of its citizens had been killed, at least two of those in mudslides caused by the pounding rain and wind speeds of 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour.

The US-based National Hurricane Center warned that the late-season tempest  "will likely result in life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," and cautioned anyone living on the Atlantic coast of Central American that "life-threatening surf and rip-current conditions," should be expected.

The meteorological experts said that they expect the storm to continuing gathering strength across the Caribbean, possibly coming ashore in Costa Rica and Nicaragua on Thursday. Should that be the case, it would be the first hurricane to make landfall in Costa Rica since reliable records began being kept in 1951.

Costa Rican authorities said they had evacuated around 4,000 people from coastal regions and near rivers in danger of overflowing.

"We will not allow people to remain in at-risk areas and loss of human life," said President Luis Guillermo Solis, who also warned about the affects on the country's key export of coffee.

Panama closed its schools and government buildings on Wednesday, while Nicaragua ordered evacuations and requested all of its civilian vessels at sea to return to port immediately.

This could be the worst storm the Caribbean has seen since Hurricane Matthew killed 546 people in Haiti in October.

es/bw (AP, AFP)

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