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Hurricane Beta Hits Nicaragua, Falters

After wreaking damage in the Central American nation, it weakens to a tropical storm.

October 31, 2005|From Associated Press

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Hurricane Beta barreled onto Nicaragua's central Caribbean coast Sunday, ripping off roofs, toppling trees and flooding low neighborhoods before weakening to a tropical storm. Heavy rain in Honduras caused four rivers to overflow and damaged crops.

No deaths or injuries were immediately reported. Beta came ashore near the remote town of Sandy Bay Sirpi, 200 miles northeast of Managua, the capital, as a Category 2 hurricane with 105-mph winds, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

By midafternoon, it had weakened to a tropical storm with 65-mph winds as it moved inland, dumping up to 15 inches of rain and raising fears of lethal mudslides. While powerful, Beta was a small storm, with its initial hurricane-force winds extending outward only about 15 miles, the hurricane center said.

Jack Howard, mayor of the central coastal town of Laguna de Perlas, told local television that 700 people were trapped in Tasbapauni, a town separated from the mainland by a lagoon.

In Honduras, authorities evacuated more than 7,800 people Sunday from 50 communities near the Nicaraguan border after four rivers overflowed from 4 inches of rain brought by Beta.

Strong winds knocked down signs, fences, trees and electricity and telephone poles, cutting off power and communication in hundreds of communities, and at least two highways were blocked, said the country's disaster response chief, Hugo Arevalo.

Flooding damaged rice, corn and bean fields. High waters also drove snakes out of the jungle into residential areas.

President Ricardo Maduro said he had requested the help of helicopters at the U.S. air base at Palmerola, 30 miles north of the capital, to ferry supplies to flooded areas. He said the government had begun distributing about 2,000 tons of food donated by the United Nations.

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