MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) – Hurricane Beta roared ashore along Nicaragua’s remote Caribbean coastline Sunday, ripping off roofs, toppling trees, provoking floods and causing rivers to overflow in neighboring Honduras before weakening to a tropical storm.

No deaths were immediately reported as the record 13th hurricane of the Atlantic season swept ashore, but 10 people were reported missing after their boat disappeared and several others were injured on the Colombian island of Providencia.

Beta hit land near the remote town of Sandy Bay Sirpi, 200 miles northeast of the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, as a category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

By Sunday afternoon, it had weakened to a tropical storm with 65 mph winds but had dumped as much as 15 inches of rain on Nicaragua. Beta was expected to continue losing strength as it moved farther inland during the day, and it was forecast to weaken to a tropical depression overnight.

Before reaching Central America, Beta lashed Providencia with strong wind and torrential rain. The slow-moving storm battered the mountainous island for more than 12 hours, injuring at least 30 people and damaging more than 300 wooden homes and buildings, most with their roofs torn apart, Colombian Civil Defense Col. Eugenio Alarcon said. Most of the 5,000 islanders found safety at brick shelters in the hills.

In Nicaragua, President Enrique Bolanos declared a maximum “red alert” late Saturday, ordering some 45,000 people from the port regions to stay in their homes or hole up in 15 shelters provided by the government.

Earlier in the day, soldiers evacuated 10,000 people from the far eastern coastal port of Cabo de Gracias a Dios and from along the River Coco, both on the Honduras border, said Nicaragua’s national civil defense director, Lt. Col. Mario Perez Cassar.

The Civil Defense Department sent army rescue teams, a tent hospital was set up, and universities and public schools were converted into shelters.

Residents of low-lying neighborhoods in Puerto Cabeza were taken to provisional shelters on higher ground. Businesses raised food prices in response to the heavy demand, while bottled water supplies ran out. Authorities threatened to sanction price gougers.

Mayor Gustavo Ramos said 10 people were missing after their boat disappeared in the storm.

In Honduras, the government ended its hurricane alert for the coast north of the Nicaraguan border.

Beta, which was not expected to hit the United States, was the 23rd named storm of the Atlantic season, the most in a single season since record-keeping began in 1851. The previous record of 21 was set in 1933.


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