Updated: 24/11/16 : 12:17:31
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World :: Mass evacuations as Hurricane Otto threatens Nicaragua and Costa Rica

Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as Hurricane Otto heads towards Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Heavy rains from the unusually strong late-season storm have already been blamed for three deaths in Panama.

Otto was forecast to make landfall in in Nicaragua, just north of the Costa Rican border, on Thursday.
Officials in Costa Rica, which has declared a national emergency, ordered the evacuation of 4,000 people from its Caribbean coast and closed schools for the rest of the week.

Heavy rain was already causing flooding in some areas and public employees were told to stay at home on Thursday and Friday.

The country's National Meteorological Institute says it will be the first time a hurricane has made landfall in Costa Rica since records began.

Nicaragua also closed schools and was evacuating more than 10,000 people from areas in the storm's path.

Heavy rains were expected to affect the entire country on Thursday and Friday, raising the possibility of flooding and landslides in the interior.

The US National Hurricane Centre said Otto had regained hurricane strength late on Wednesday, with winds of 85mph (140kph), after fluctuating between tropical storm and hurricane status earlier this week.

The storm caused heavy rains in Panama as it moved roughly parallel to the country's northern coast.
Panama's civil defence director, Jose Donderis, said nine people were trapped in a landslide just west of Panama City early on Tuesday.

Seven were rescued but two were pulled from the mud dead.

In Panama City, the capital, a child was killed when a tree fell on a car outside a school.
Authorities shut schools and began to release water from locks and lakes feeding the Panama Canal.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis said he feared Otto could damage the country's important coffee and agriculture sectors.

Nicaragua also expressed concern that coffee crops almost ready for harvest could be harmed.
Late on Wednesday, Otto was moving west at 9mph (15kph) and was about 120 miles (195km) east-southeast off the regional capital Bluefields, the US National Hurricane Centre said.