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Hurricane Otto kills 9 in Costa Rica

SAN JOSE: A hurricane that churned its way across Central America before sweeping into the Pacific on Friday killed at least nine people in Costa Rica and caused millions of dollars in damage, officials said.

President Luis Guillermo Solis declared three days of mourning, starting Monday. In neighboring Nicaragua, officials reported no casualties but dozens of homes were damaged in low-lying areas.

Hurricane Otto had sparked red alerts in both countries when it spun in from the Caribbean on Thursday with winds of up to 175 kilometres per hour.

It made landfall in southeastern Nicaragua, in an area with national reserves that is sparsely inhabited, before crossing into Costa Rica, losing strength as it went.

Early Friday it headed out into the Pacific Ocean as a downgraded tropical storm. It should continue to weaken, the US National Hurricane Center said.

A Costa Rican police official, Walter Espinoza, told a news conference: “The number of people killed is nine. We have recovered eight bodies, only one remains.”

Solis said the storm dumped a month’s worth of rain in just a few hours in Costa Rica. Authorities said it caused around US$8 million in damage to roads.

Aerial television pictures from northern Costa Rica showed water and mud in several towns, and small bridges collapsed.


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