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Tropical Storm Beta Pounds Isles Off Nicaragua

The bad weather is likely to strengthen into a hurricane before hitting Central America proper.

October 28, 2005|From Times Wire Services

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Tropical Storm Beta lashed Caribbean islands off Nicaragua's coast with wind and rain Thursday and was forecast to strengthen to a hurricane before hitting the mainland this weekend.

Strong winds and light rain swept over the idyllic Corn Islands, many of whose lobster-fishing residents are of British-West Indian descent.

"There's a lot of wind," Naomi Gaitan said by telephone from the island hotel where she works. "Since yesterday we've been without electricity."

Officials evacuated hundreds of tourists and residents on the Colombian island of San Andres, 425 miles northwest of its mainland. Colombia issued a hurricane warning for San Andres and for Providencia Island to the north, also Colombian.

Beta is the 23rd named tropical storm of an unrelenting Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season, the most active since records began 150 years ago.

The latest storm is expected to reach Nicaragua as a hurricane late Saturday, and disaster services have begun preparing shelters in case of evacuations.

The storm could dump up to 20 inches of rain over parts of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama.

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