Otto’s pound­ing rains kill 9, swamp sec­tions of Costa Rica

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD -

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Trop­i­cal Storm Otto killed at least nine peo­ple in Costa Rica and then headed into the Pa­cific Ocean on Fri­day af­ter mak­ing land­fall as the south­ern­most hur­ri­cane on record to hit Cen­tral Amer­ica.

Costa Ri­can Pres­i­dent Luis Guillermo So­lis said nine peo­ple had been killed in the area of Ba­gaces and Upala, a town south of the Costa Rica-Nicaragua bor­der. Ear­lier, he said at least six peo­ple were miss­ing in the nearby town of Bi­jagua.

So­lis said as much wa­ter fell on the area in a few hours as nor­mally falls in a month, and said some peo­ple had been trapped by ris­ing wa­ters.

The United States sent air­planes and neigh­bor­ing Panama sent planes and he­li­copters to aid in the search and res­cue ef­forts in the area, where rainswollen rivers over­flowed their banks.

Otto made land­fall on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast Thurs­day as a Cat­e­gory 2 storm, but it faded to trop­i­cal storm force be­fore emerg­ing over the eastern Pa­cific early Fri­day.

Au­thor­i­ties in Nicaragua said the hur­ri­cane had dam­aged or de­stroyed 400 houses, but there were no re­ports of ca­su­al­ties. Earli- er, heavy rains from the storm were blamed for three deaths in Panama.

Otto bat­tered Nicaragua’s Corn Is­lands with 10-foot waves and dam­aged houses, but res­i­dents were safe, said the ar­chi­pel­ago’s mayor, Cleve­land Rolando Web­ster.

The U.S. National Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter said the storm was pro­jected to keep mov­ing west­ward away from Cen­tral Amer­ica, fur­ther into Pa­cific.

So­lis said Otto could dam­age the coun­try’s cof­fee and agri­cul­ture sec­tors. Nicaragua also feared dam­age to cof­fee crops that are al­most ready for har­vest.

JEFFREY ARGUEDAS/AP

A man in an im­pro­vised raft sur­veys his home Fri­day in Upala, Costa Rica.

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