Evacuation as storm nears Nicaragua
Nicaragua is evacuating about 10,000 people from the path of Tropical Storm Matthew as the storm drenched the Caribbean coast and threatened much of a Central American region prone to disastrous flooding.
The US National Hurricane Centre in Miami said Matthew could bring 6 to 10 inches of rain to Nicaragua and Honduras, with the possibility of flash floods and mud slides. Some parts of Nicaragua are already coping with flooding due to earlier rains.
The centre said the storm was moving inland over Honduras late on Friday and was heading north-west toward Guatemala with maximum sustained winds of 50mph. The storm first hit land on Friday afternoon over north-eastern Nicaragua.
A tropical storm watch is also in effect for the coast of Belize.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega ordered the preventive measures and "all emergency structures are on alert", Lt Col Freddy Herrera told the Associated Press. "We have evacuated people from the region of Cabo Gracias a Dios and the Miskito Cays" in the same region.
Flights into the area were suspended due to limited visibility, though the winds are moderate, the military said.
In Honduras, the government declared a state of preventive alert throughout the country and defence minister Marlon Pascua said the army is ready to help civil defence actions.
In Honduras, the defence minister said armed forces are ready, and the Red Cross reported 3,000 aid workers in place. Civil defence officials in El Salvador are taking precautions, including cancelling classes in high-risk areas, and Costa Rican authorities also reported being on a high level of alert for increased precipitation in flood-risk zones along the central Pacific coast.
Meanwhile far out over the Atlantic, Lisa became the seventh hurricane of the season and was drifting slowly north with maximum sustained winds near 75mph.