Deadly tropical storm Nate kills 22 in Central America, heads for US

A man walks near houses damaged by a mudslide during heavy rains of Tropical Storm Nate that affects the country in San Jose, Costa Rica on Friday, October 5, 2017. (REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Deadly tropical storm Nate kills 22 in Central America, heads for US

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica: Tropical Storm Nate has killed at least 22 people in Central America with torrential rains that forced thousands from their homes, uprooted trees, knocked out bridges and turned roads into rivers, officials said Thursday.
Forecasters predicted it will strengthen into a hurricane headed for Mexico and the United States.
The country hardest hit by the storm that began Wednesday was Nicaragua, with 11 dead and seven missing, Vice President Rosario Murillo told state media.
Officials in Costa Rica said eight people died including a three-year-old girl after they were hit by falling trees and mudslides, and two young Nicaraguan farm workers. At least 17 people were missing.
Costa Rica declared a national emergency as it struggled with mudslides, washed out roads and overflowing rivers.
Schools, universities, government offices and banks across the Central American nation were closed.
Three other people were killed in Honduras.
Nicaragua’s Murillo added that 800 people had been evacuated, nearly 600 homes were flooded and 14 communities were isolated because of rains that had been falling for days.
More than 5,000 people were being put up in shelters in Costa Rica after having to abandon their homes because of flooding and the risk of unstable ground giving way, the director of the National Emergency Commission, Ivan Brenes, said.
At least 18 main roads were closed and another dozen were only partially open. In Costa Rica’s northwest Guanacaste region popular with tourists many roads were so flooded as to be impassable to all but four-wheel-drive vehicles and horses.
As of Thursday night Nate was moving northwest along the east coast of Honduras and was expected to reach hurricane strength when it reaches the central Gulf of Mexico some time late Friday or early Saturday.
 


Storm or hurricane watches have been issued from Louisiana east through Mississippi and Alabama, the US National Hurricane Center said in a bulletin at 0300 GMT.
Some offshore oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico were being evacuated ahead of the storm, the US government Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in a statement.
The United States is recovering from two major hurricanes: Hurricane Harvey that tore through Texas in August, and Hurricane Irma in September.
Another powerful storm, Hurricane Maria, ripped through the Caribbean in late September, wreaking destruction on several islands, including Dominica and Puerto Rico.

World Cup match postponed
In Costa Rica, an alert was issued for people to be wary of crocodiles that might be roaming after rivers and estuaries flooded.
Concerned football officials were monitoring the situation and postponed a World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and Honduras from Friday to Saturday.
Costa Rica’s main international airport was open, but with multiple flight cancelations and delays.

The annual rainy season is currently underway in Central America, a five-month period typically ending in November in which the risk of flooding and mudslides rise.
This year’s has been intense, with some areas in the region getting up to 50 percent more rain than average for September and October.


Ebola cases in DR Congo rise to 78, 44 dead

Updated 7 min 44 sec ago
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Ebola cases in DR Congo rise to 78, 44 dead

BENI, DR Congo: Seventy-eight cases of Ebola have been recorded in an outbreak in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, claiming 44 lives, DRC officials and the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.
The latest outbreak of the viral disease, which is highly contagious and frequently fatal if untreated, has prompted a visit by the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the health ministry said in a statement.
“In all, 78 cases of haemorrhagic fever have been reported in the region, of which 51 are confirmed and 27 probable” while “24 suspect cases are under investigation,” according to reports from Congolese authorities and the WHO.
Confirmed cases are verified by way of laboratory tests on samples taken from patients. The cases treated as “probable” often concern diseased people who had a close epidemiological link with confirmed cases, but have not been tested.
Congolese authorities reported “two deaths of confirmed cases at Beni” — a trading town with a population approaching a quarter of a million people in North Kivu province.
There were also “five new confirmed cases at Mabalako, including a health worker at the Health Reference Center in Mangina,” the epicenter of the outbreak in the Beni region.
“We are expecting to see more cases,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva.
The outbreak is the tenth to strike the DRC since 1976, when Ebola was first identified and named after a river in the north of the country.
It affects a part of the country wracked by violence for more than 20 years, from all-out war to insurgency and sustained ethnic clashes.
Forty-one deaths were reported in North Kivu and three in neighboring Ituri region to the north, according to the health ministry.
Congolese Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga had talks with the director of the CDC, Robert Redfield, regarding CDC training programs for epidemiologists in the field, an official statement said.
The ministry’s directorate for disease control announced on Tuesday that doctors in Beni had started to use a novel treatment called mAb114 to treat patients with Ebola.
The treatment is “the first therapeutic drug against the virus to be used in an active Ebola epidemic in the DRC,” it said.
mAb114 is an antibody initially isolated from a survivor of an Ebola outbreak in the western DRC city of Kikwit in 1995, it added.
Ebola has long been considered incurable, though swift isolation and the rapid treatment of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration has helped some of the patients to survive.
The quest for a vaccine grew increasingly urgent during an Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,300 people in West African neighboring states Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013-15.