Seven dead as Matthew slams Central America

Seven people have died in a Caracas slum due to heavy rains from Tropical Storm Matthew, which brought fresh misery to a region were hundreds have been killed in flooding and landslides this year.

Last Updated: Sep 25, 2010, 18:25 PM IST

Caracas: Seven people have died in a Caracas
slum due to heavy rains from Tropical Storm Matthew, which
brought fresh misery to a region were hundreds have been
killed in flooding and landslides this year.

An unrelated freak storm in Haiti killed at least five
survivors from its devastating January quake and wounded
dozens as it blasted through the capital Port-au-Prince,
tearing down shabby tent homes, trees and power lines.

Citing local fire department officials, Venezuela`s VNA
state news agency said Tropical Storm Matthew killed its seven
victims yesterday in the Santa Ana de Antimano neighborhood
after their home was flooded.

Caracas fire chief William Martinez said authorities also
conducted preventive evictions in other high-risk areas.

Thousands of people had been evacuated elsewhere in
Central America ahead of Matthew, which made landfall in a
lightly populated area of northeastern Nicaragua, then headed
west, dumping rain across much of northern Honduras.

The storm struck further south than expected, Rosalba
Silva of Nicaragua`s Meteorology Institute told a news agency.

At 0300 GMT today, Matthew`s center was located inland
about 130 kilometers east-southeast of the coastal city of La
Ceiba, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). It
packed top winds of 85 kilometers per hour.

The storm was moving west-northwest at 24 kilometers per
hour.

There have been no reports of victims or serious damage
in Honduras, though the Honduran government expanded a red
alert nationwide because Matthew threatened all 18
departments.

"This is a new threat. Tropical Storm Matthew has entered
the territory and we predict heavy rains throughout the
country," President Porfirio Lobo told reporters.

Randolfo Funez of the national emergency commission
pointed to high water levels in rivers, noting that the soil
was highly saturated after frequent rains since May.

Some 10,000 Miskito Indians living on Nicaragua`s
Caribbean coast were evacuated ahead of the storm, said Civil
Defense chief Mario Perezcassar.

"Torrential rains will be the biggest threat for the next
few days," the NHC said.

The eye of the storm is forecast to move across Honduras
yesterday and today, reaching Belize and Guatemala later the
day and tomorrow.

Matthew is a large storm, with tropical force storm winds
extending outward up to 280 kilometers to the north of the
center, the NHC said.

PTI