Tropical storm Eta is expected to make landfall in Cuba in a few hours, the US hurricane center National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Sunday morning. Eta has already caused dozens of deaths and missing persons in Mexico and Central America this week, with Guatemala in particular being hit hard.
The storm is currently located some 200 kilometers from the city of Camaguey in Cuba and has wind speeds of 100 kilometers per hour, the NHC said. There are fears of landslides and floods due to the heavy rain that the storm will bring. In many places the soil is already soaked. Hundreds of Cubans are currently evacuating.
On Tuesday, Eta made landfall in Nicaragua like a hurricane and later weakened to a tropical storm. Heavy rain caused landslides and floods. It is estimated that around 200 people have died in Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico, among others.
Guatemala in particular has been hit hard. 103 people have died here so far and 21 others are missing. Rescue efforts in Queja village were halted on Sunday due to another landslide. Houses in the village are buried under a layer of mud fifteen meters thick. Dozens of villagers have died. One village woman lost 22 family members this week.
The situation in Queja is a “national tragedy,” said Francisco Muz, who is leading the rescue operation. The village is difficult to reach due to the landslides and less than a hundred rescue workers have managed to reach it so far.