TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Tropical Storm Richard lashed the Caribbean coast of Honduras yesterday with strong winds and heavy rains that threatened to unleash potentially deadly flash floods and landslides.
Richard had maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour and was forecast to strengthen, possibly nearing hurricane force today, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
The storm was centered about 80 miles north-northwest of Honduras’ easternmost coastal point and moving on a path that would take it near the Honduran island of Roatan, which is popular with tourists and divers.
Emergency officials declared a three-day state of alert in seven provinces in northern and eastern Honduras, and a hurricane watch was in effect for some areas.
The government of Belize, a small Central American nation, issued a hurricane warning for its entire coast, while Mexico issued a tropical storm warning for its southern Caribbean coast.
In Taiwan yesterday, the government’s transport minister said searchers found mangled vehicle parts thought to be a bus carrying 19 Chinese tourists that disappeared when typhoon rains triggered massive mudslides on a mountainside highway.
Landslides caused by Typhoon Megi killed nine people and buried a Buddhist temple in hardest-hit Ilan County in the northeast, where a record 45 inches of rain fell over 48 hours. Three other people drowned in their flooded homes, the Central Emergency Operations Center said.
The bus passengers were among 23 people still missing on the island after Megi, which killed 28 people in the Philippines last week.
Megi pounded southern China’s Fujian Province with heavy rain yesterday but was downgraded to a strong tropical storm with winds of up to 67 miles per hour. TV news showed flooded streets, uprooted trees, and swollen waterways, but there were no immediate reports of major damage.