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Tropical Storm Ravages Central America

November 01, 2001|Reuters

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — The Honduran government declared a national "red alert" Wednesday as Tropical Storm Michelle formed over the Caribbean, bringing torrential rains and flooding that left more than two dozen people dead or missing in the region and forced tens of thousands from their homes.

Four people were confirmed dead and seven were missing after rivers overflowed their banks in coastal areas of Honduras following several days of heavy rain, officials said. At least 20,000 people were forced from their homes along the Caribbean coast and in northern districts.

Authorities scrambled to send emergency supplies but were unable to get them through to towns and villages cut off by the flooding.

In neighboring Nicaragua, 12 people were listed as missing and feared dead Wednesday with hundreds more forced out of their homes by the rain and flooding.

The U.S. National Weather Service said Wednesday night that the tropical depression had strengthened to a tropical storm as winds reached 40 miles per hour.

Michelle, the thirteenth named tropical storm of the year, was centered about 75 miles north-northwest of Cabo Gracias a Dios, a coastal town on the Nicaraguan-Honduran border, at 9 p.m. That put it about 250 miles south-southwest of the Cayman Islands.

It was drifting north at nearly 3 mph, with a gradual turn north-northwest expected Wednesday night or today, the weather service said.

Though the threat of heavy rainfall was diminishing across Central America, another 2 inches to 4 inches was possible over portions of Honduras and Nicaragua, the weather service said.

"These rains are capable of producing life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," it said.

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