Tropical Storm Julia emerges over Pacific after Nicaragua, no fatalities reported

MEXICO CITY, Oct 9 (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Julia made an appearance over the eastern Pacific on Sunday night after battering Nicaragua with rain and winds that damaged hundreds of homes but left no casualties, according to government officials.

The storm made landfall near Laguna de Perlas on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast early Sunday and as of 6 p.m. local time (0000 GMT) its center was over the Pacific Ocean, about 135 miles (220 kilometers) southeast of El Salvador’s capital, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

It is expected to move north along the coasts of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala on Sunday and Monday, according to the NHC.

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About a million residents of coastal Nicaragua have lost power and internet due to downed power lines and a government decision to cut power for safety reasons, Vice President Rosario Murillo said, according to local media.

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The Nicaraguan National Disaster Management System tweeted on Sunday that the entire country was under “red alert” after heavy rains flooded several rivers.

Guillermo Gonzalez, Director of Nicaragua’s Civil Protection, told a press conference that Julia had not caused any deaths in the country but that more than 13,000 families had been evacuated, more than 800 homes were flooded and many roofs were damaged.

“The event is not over yet,” Gonzalez said.

The NHC maintained its warning of the “risk of life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in Central America and southern Mexico” through Tuesday.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro said on social media early Sunday that Julia had left “light damage” in San Andres and Providencia, Colombian islands off the coast of Nicaragua.

In San Andres, heavy winds tore tin roofs off houses, according to Police Captain Octavio Gutierrez. On Sunday, the streets echoed with the sound of hand saws being used by police and locals to clear down fallen logs and branches.

In high-risk zones in Honduras, the authorities have declared a red alert and called on residents to evacuate. Early Sunday, Salvadorans prayed in city squares after El Salvador President Nayib Bukele declared the day a “national day of prayer” and called on citizens to “come together to pray and ask for God’s protection.”

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As Julia headed north, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said in a news conference late Sunday that the storm had already caused three floods and a bridge collapse.

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Reporting by Jackie Botts and Aida Pelaez-Fernandez in Mexico City Additional reporting by Luis Echeverria and Enrique Garcia in Guatemala City, Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Herbert Villarraga and Nina Lopez in San Andres; writing from Frances Kerry; Editing by Barbara Lewis, Matthew Lewis and Ana Nicolaci da Costa

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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