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Costa Rica declares emergency as Hurricane Otto looms

Hurricane packing winds of 125km/h as it threatens the coasts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Image Credit: Reuters
An indigenous girl who was evacuated from her home arrives at the Bluefields Port before the arrival of Hurricane Otto in Bluefields, Nicaragua.

Costa Rica declared a national emergency late Wednesday, hours ahead of the arrival of a hurricane threatening its Caribbean coast and northern towns.

President Luis Guillermo Solis used his official Twitter feed to announce the measure, which closes all government offices on Thursday and Friday except for ones dealing with the storm, Hurricane Otto.

The storm regained hurricane strength Wednesday as it swirled towards the coasts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the US-based National Hurricane Centre said.

The storm, which has prompted evacuations and emergency alerts, was packing maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometres per hour as it spun about 225km northeast of Costa Rica’s port city of Limon, the monitor reported in its latest bulletin.

Otto had strengthened into a hurricane Tuesday, only to be downgraded back to a tropical storm.

The centre of Otto is expected to move on shore Thursday after additional strengthening. By early Friday, the NHC predicts it will reach the Pacific coast of southern Nicaragua or northern Costa Rica.

Those regions could see 15 to 30 centimetres of rain in some areas, the NHC said.

“These rains will likely result in life-threatening flash floods and mud slides,” with life-threatening surf and rip currents conditions on the coasts of Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, it warned.