PANAMA CITY – At least 23 people have died and 27 were missing on Thursday as a result of heavy rainfall and high winds brought by tropical storm Nate.
Eleven of the casualties were in Nicaragua whereas Costa Rica has been the worst affected with around 7,000 refugees, floods and damage to infrastructure and agriculture.
The storm, one of the worst natural disasters to strike Costa Rica in recent years, left at least eight people dead and 17 missing in the country.
Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis has already declared a national state of emergency to expedite the mobilization of resources to those affected by the storm, who have been housed in 95 shelters.
The government suspended classes at a national level and declared a holiday for public workers with the exception of emergency workers.
Although Nate did not make landfall in Costa Rica, it has brought torrential rains to the Central American nation, where some areas have witnessed rainfall equivalent to the average rainfall received last October.
Entire communities and shops have been flooded, some up to the roofs, along with agricultural plantations while several bridges have collapsed and roads severely affected.
Five hundred thousand people are without drinking water supplies while 18,500 have problems accessing electricity.
North of Costa Rica in Nicaragua, Nate brought heavy winds of 40 miles per hour (65 kilometers per hour), with some isolated areas of the country possibly facing as much as 30 inches of rainfall, the US National Hurricane Center said.
While Nate’s center was over eastern Honduras on Thursday evening, a tropical storm warning was still in effect for northeastern Nicaragua.
The NHC forecast Nate would move north-northwest at a speed of 10 mph over eastern Honduras and the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Thursday night and Friday.
Nate could reach hurricane strength by Friday night as it approaches the Yucatan peninsula.