Severe floods hammer Costa Rica, two dead

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Severe floods hammer Costa Rica
People stand on a bridge over La Estrella river damaged by floods due to heavy rains in Limon, Costa Rica July 26, 2021. Costa Rica’s Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

July 26, 2021

SAN JOSE (Reuters) – Relentless rainfall in the Caribbean region caused at least two deaths amid severe flooding and major infrastructure damage in northern and eastern Costa Rica, authorities said on Monday.

Two people were killed and another two were missing, according to the Red Cross in Costa Rica. Some 3,000 people were forced to seek refuge from the extreme weather into emergency shelters, authorities said.

Nearly a quarter of Costa Rica is under a “red alert” declared by the National Emergency Commission (CNE) for flooding and landslides, including the northern municipalities of San Carlos, Upala, Guatuso and the Caribbean zones of Limón, Matina, Talamanca, Sarapiquí and Turrialba.

Turrialba, which is 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of San José, received in just one day the usual amount of rain for the entire month of July, according to Mayor Luis Fernando León.

“We were not prepared for this magnitude. It is an extreme event that has not occurred since 1978,” León told Reuters by telephone.

The rains were worsened by the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a band of rain encircling the globe, and humidity carried by trade winds, the National Meteorological Institute (IMN) said in a weekend statement.

By Monday, rains had let up enough that authorities were able to deliver aid to some affected areas, President Carlos Alvarado said.

“There is a decrease in rainfall and it is getting easier to access aid and work to remove debris and begin to rebuild normalcy in these communities,” Alvarado said.

The IMN forecast additional but moderate rains in the Caribbean zones and an increase in rains in the center of the country and the Pacific slope.

(Reporting by Alvaro Murillo; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Sandra Maler)