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Hurricane Cesar Drenches Colombia, Avalanches Kill 2

Sun., July 28, 1996

Hurricane Cesar picked up force in the Caribbean on Saturday, drenching Colombia and the Central American coast with heavy rains blamed for at least two deaths.

Both deaths were in Colombia, where rain triggered avalanches that killed two people and buried eight children as they slept in their parents’ home.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami posted hurricane warnings all the way from the Nicaraguan border with Costa Rica to midway up the Honduran coast.

Landfall was expected by this morning.

Cesar packed sustained winds of 80.5 miles an hour with gusts up to almost 98 mph, the hurricane center said. At 5 p.m. PDT, it was 90 miles off the Nicaraguan coast and drifting west at 16 mph.

That placed it near San Andres, Providencia and Catalina, three small Caribbean islands belonging to Colombia. The San Andres archipelago is home to some 40,000 people and a favorite tourist spot, especially among divers.

San Andres and Providencia also were under hurricane warnings.

Authorities there cut off power as a precaution, said Radio RCN, monitored in the Colombian capital of Bogota.

A roof collapsed in the storm in San Andres, injuring two people, police Chief Col. Alberto Lopez said.

Even before it was upgraded from a tropical storm, Cesar’s rains brought on a landslide that killed a young man and a farmer in the town of Valledupar in northern Colombia, RCN reported.

In the town of Pueblo Bello, eight children were missing after a landslide swept away their home.

Flooding in the area blocked rural roads and brought rivers out of their banks.

Heavy rain also was reported along the coasts of southern Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and parts of Panama.

The hurricane center warned Cesar could cause tides 7 to 10 feet above normal along the Nicaraguan coast and 1 to 3 feet higher along the Honduran coast.

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