Central America bears brunt of hurricane Iota

Hurricane Iota crashed into the coast of Nicaragua on Monday (November 16) packing winds of 155 miles (or 260 km) per hour.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center has downgraded its power from a Category 5 to a 4.

But Iota is still expected to do some serious damage.

The storm could raise sea levels by 20 feet (or 6 meters) above normal tides and dump as much as 30 inches (76 cm) of rain as it barrels inland over the next few days.

The disaster follows in the wake of another huge storm.

Hurricane Eta struck the region only two weeks ago, killing dozens and devastating crops.

Experts say millions are now facing hunger.

The United Nations refugee agency blamed climate change for increasing extreme weather in Central America, a charge echoed by regional leaders

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said his country was caught in a vicious cycle.

''Every time there is a natural disaster as a result of climate change, we acquire debt. And we have come out to knock on the doors of the generous, of the banks and multilateral bodies, that then give us higher financing obligations for reconstruction."

Ahead of the storm, authorities rushed to get people to safety.

Frightened residents hunkered down at a shelter on the coast of Nicaragua.

"You know what hurricanes are like. It doesn't cause chaos in just one town. We're all scared for our lives," said local resident Magdalena Bell.

Central America is already facing an economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.

Experts warn that this year's natural disasters could worsen an already terrible situation, fuelling a new round of migration from the region.