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At least nine dead in strongest Atlantic hurricane of the year

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A car damaged by a tree is seen after the passing of Hurricane Iota in Puerto Cabezas Nicaragua Nov. 17 2020

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - A slightly weakened Hurricane Iota began whipping a remote coastal area of Nicaragua with catastrophic winds and storm surges on Monday, as the region's leaders blamed climate change for destructive weather pushing millions closer to hunger.

Heavy rains caused 42 rivers and streams to overflow, damaged two bridges and cut off two towns, while sparking four large-scale landslides and 31 road collapses, and flooding or damaging some 7,078 houses, leaving two homes completely destroyed.

A vehicle damaged by a tree is pictured after the passing of Hurricane Iota, in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua November 17, 2020.

Although the system no longer has the 160-mph winds it boasted earlier this week, Iota is still managing to churn out maximum wind speeds of 30 miles per hour, according to the NHC.

Unlike its neighbors, Nicaragua did not register fatalities from Eta, although local media said the storm killed at least two people there, plus dozens more across Central America.

Storm Iota unleashed torrential flooding in Central America yesterday, causing swollen rivers to burst their banks as it flipped roofs onto the streets, and downed electricity poles and trees, killing at least two people in the region.

Despite the dissolution of Iota, the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said the storm's remnants could trigger more flooding and mudslides across Central America through Thursday. It will continue to weaken as it moves further inland.

A man watches the rising water of the Rio Bermejo in the wake of Hurricane Iota in San Pedro Sula Honduras Nov. 17 2020
A man watches the rising water of the Rio Bermejo in the wake of Hurricane Iota in San Pedro Sula Honduras Nov. 17 2020

In Honduras, more than 71,000 people are in shelters, while El Salvador, Colombia and Panama have also been affected.

With 30 named storms, we are now the busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record with perhaps a few more areas to watch over the next few weeks.

"We could die", said one, Inocencia Smith.

Hurricane Iota, determined to be a Category 4 storm, has crossed Nicaragua.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) noted the risks of compounding impacts of Eta and Iota. The World Food Programme said millions of people had already urgently needed food aid in the wake of Eta.

Let us remind you that late Monday evening (Tuesday morning in Kiev), the fourth category hurricane Iota hit the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua.

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