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Hurricane Beta hits the Caribbean





joshdifabio
Tropical Storm Beta has been upgraded to a hurricane as it hits the Colombian island of Providencia.

The US National Hurricane Center said maximum sustained winds had increased to nearly 75mph (120 km/h) - making it a Category One hurricane.

The hurricane is expected to hit Central America as a Category Two storm. Thousands of Nicaraguans are being evacuated.

Beta is the 13th hurricane of the Atlantic season - a record.

On the mountainous Caribbean island of Providencia, Beta's high winds ripped the roofs from low-lying wooden homes while residents took refuge in brick shelters built on high ground.

All the islanders were believed to be safe but many homes had been damaged, Capt German Collazos, chief of ports, told the Associated Press news agency.

Evacuations

Beta is expected to make landfall on Nicaragua's border with Honduras on Sunday morning.

Both countries have issued hurricane warnings.

Strong winds and heavy rain have already begun hitting the Nicaraguan coastal town of Puerto Cabezas, about 250 miles (400km) north-east of the capital Managua.

Up to 8,000 residents of low-lying coastal communities, mainly Miskito Indians, are being moved to schools and other temporary shelters in the town.

Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolanos said damage to property was unavoidable, adding: "The important thing is to save lives."

In Honduras, officials have set up shelters, and sent food and other supplies to areas that might be affected by the storm.

Storm names exhausted

This hurricane season has seen 23 named storms, more than at any point since record-keeping began in 1851. The previous record of 21 was set in 1933.

Last week Tropical Storm Alpha was named as it formed - the first time a letter from the Greek alphabet has been used because the list of storm names has been exhausted.

Alpha, which struck earlier this week, killed 26 people in the Caribbean and caused flooding and mudslides in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It has now subsided.

Earlier this month, hundreds of people were killed in Guatemala by mudslides triggered by Hurricane Stan.

Meanwhile, residents in Florida are continuing with the clear-up following Hurricane Wilma last weekend.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially ends on 30 November.
n0obie4life
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