The heart of powerful Hurricane Eta began moving ashore in Nicaragua on Tuesday with devastating winds and rains that had already destroyed rooftops and caused rivers to overflow. The hurricane had sustained winds of 140mph, according to the US National Hurricane Center, down from an overnight peak of 150mph. On Tuesday afternoon, the Category 4 hurricane was still on the coast, about 15 miles south-southwest of coastal Puerto Cabezas or Bilwi, and it was moving west near 5mph. The unceasing winds uprooted trees and ripped roofs apart, scattering corrugated metal through the streets of Bilwi, the main coastal city in the region. The city's regional hospital abandoned its building, the AP reports, moving patients to a technical school campus. "It was an intense night for everyone in Bilwi, Waspam, and the communities along the northern coast," said a local Bilwi representative of the ruling Sandinista Front.
The director of the country’s emergency management agency, said there were reports of corrugated metal roofs flying off homes; trees, poles and power lines falling; and rivers rising in the coastal area. There were no reported injuries or deaths. About 10,000 people were in shelters in Bilwi and an equal number in smaller towns across the region, he said. The area had already been lashed with strong winds and heavy rain for hours. Authorities in Nicaragua and Honduras had moved people Monday from outer islands and low-lying areas to shelters. Residents scrambled to shore up their homes, but few structures along Nicaragua’s remote Caribbean coast were built to withstand such force. The army moved red-helmeted troops specialized in search and rescue to Bilwi, the main coastal city in an otherwise sparsely populated area. This could be only the beginning of Eta's destruction. The storm is forecast to spend much of the week meandering over Central America.
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