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Eta Tracks Towards Florida Keys After Lashing Cuba

Tropical Storm Eta headed towards Florida on Sunday and was set to strengthen into a hurricane again after slamming Cuba and earlier cutting a deadly path through Central America and southern Mexico.

As the storm left Cuba, the US National Hurricane Center said it was “forecast to become a hurricane as it moves near or over the Florida Keys tonight and early Monday.”



Aerial view of a mudslide caused by Eta and where it is estimated that dozens of people died in the village of Queja, in San Cristobal Verapaz, Guatemala on November 7, 2020


Aerial view of a mudslide caused by Eta and where it is estimated that dozens of people died in the village of Queja, in San Cristobal Verapaz, Guatemala on November 7, 2020
 POOL / Esteban BIBA

The NHC warned of dangerous storm surge, flash floods and strong winds.

Cuba’s meteorology institute Insmet said Eta made landfall at 4:30 am (0930 GMT) Sunday on the border between the central provinces of Sancti Spiritus and Ciego de Avila.

Its maximum sustained winds were around 60 miles (95 kilometers) per hour with higher gusts, the institute said.



Cubans move their belongings due to possible flooding from Tropical Storm Eta in Havana on November 8, 2020


Cubans move their belongings due to possible flooding from Tropical Storm Eta in Havana on November 8, 2020
 AFP / YAMIL LAGE

A tropical storm is considered a hurricane when it hits wind speeds of 74 miles per hour.

As it moved north off Cuba, Eta punished the archipelago of Jardines del Rey, but state television reported that the 600 foreign tourists vacationing there were protected.



This US Air Force photo shows Hondurans standing on rooftops surrounded by the floodwaters of Hurricane Eta at San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on November 7, 2020


This US Air Force photo shows Hondurans standing on rooftops surrounded by the floodwaters of Hurricane Eta at San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on November 7, 2020
 US AIR FORCE / Elijaih TIGGS

Heavy rains were reported in the eastern half of Cuba, where authorities have evacuated thousands of people due to the risk of flooding.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel convened an emergency government meeting, and “no loss of life or significant damage to homes have been reported,” according to state media.

Before the storm arrived, 74,000 people were evacuated, 8,000 of them to shelters set up by the authorities, the reports said.



Havana's Malecon as Tropical Storm Eta approaches


Havana’s Malecon as Tropical Storm Eta approaches
 AFP / YAMIL LAGE

Western Cuba could be affected, including the Havana area, as the storm turns toward Florida, bringing swells that could produce flooding, forecasts said.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in the state’s southern counties on Saturday in advance of the storm, even as residents in the rain either protested or celebrated Joe Biden’s win in the US presidential election.

The Florida Keys will close schools on Monday, Covid-19 testing sites were temporarily shut and authorities opened shelters and began handing out sandbags for residents to protect their homes from flooding.

Eta hit Nicaragua on Tuesday as a powerful hurricane before losing strength.

It caused torrential rains that have left some 200 victims dead or missing in Central America.

The most affected country has been Guatemala, where about 150 people are missing.

Rescuers on Saturday searched for the bodies of residents of an indigenous village in the north of the country that was hit by a landslide.

In Honduras, heavy flooding in the north and northwest of the country killed 23 people, according to authorities.

Torrential rain and a bitter cold front linked to Eta have also claimed at least 20 lives in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.


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