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Guatemala approves state of calamity due to devastating cyclone Eta

November 11, 2020

Guatemala declared a state of public calamity in 10 of its 22 departments affected by cyclone Eta, which left some 150 dead or missing in the country last week, authorities reported Wednesday.

Parliament approved the decision Tuesday night with a vote in favor from 118 of its 160 deputies, informed the president of Congress and member of the ruling party, Allan Rodríguez.

The cyclone severely affected the northern departments of Guatemala.

Several opposition deputies asked the government to communicate the expected expenses needed to alleviate the crisis and address not only the emergency but also the reconstruction of communities, crops and infrastructure damaged by Eta.

With the state of emergency, ministries can make purchases without bureaucratic red tape, and this can lead to corruption, according to critics.

On Tuesday, Guatemalan first responders and military suspended the search for missing persons in an indigenous community in the north.

The searches were carried out in the Quejá community of San Cristóbal Verapaz, where some 150 homes were buried by a landslide that occurred last week.

According to authorities, the avalanche left at least 100 indigenous Mayans buried in that impoverished area of ​​the country, but only eight bodies were recovered.

Eta’s passage through Central America left more than 200 dead or missing and thousands affected. The storm made landfall in Nicaragua on November 3 as a Category 4 hurricane.

Dozens of communities in northern Guatemala were flooded and overland access routes were destroyed, so authorities installed an air bridge to rescue those affected and provide humanitarian aid.

Guatemala’s civil protection registered 1,153 incidents and estimated 639,526 people affected by floods and landslides or who were left incommunicado.

After passing through Central America, Eta reentered the Caribbean Sea before making landfall in Cuba and the United States.

The National Hurricane Center says tropical-storm-force winds are expected later Wednesday along portions of the west coast of Florida.

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