Hurricane Iota has made landfall on the coast of Nicaragua with winds of up to 155mph, the National Hurricane Centre (NHT) has said.
The category four hurricane hit the town of Haulover at around 10.40pm eastern time on Monday (3.40am GMT Tuesday).
It is around 15 miles south from where the devastating Hurricane Eta struck earlier in the month, killing at least 200 people and leaving dozens more missing.
Hurricane Iota has weakened slightly from a category five storm as it ripped towards the coast in Central America, but still threatens the region with “life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds, flash flooding and landslides”.
In neighbouring Honduras, compulsory evacuations began before the weekend and by Sunday night 63,500 people were reported to be in 379 shelters just in the northern region, while the whole country remains on high alert.
Nicaraguan officials said that by late Sunday afternoon about 1,500 people, nearly half of them children, had been evacuated in the country’s northeast, including everyone in Cayo Miskito. Authorities said 83,000 people in that region are in danger.
Local media reports showed people being evacuated in wooden boats, carrying young children as well as dogs and chickens.
Residents fleeing their homes said they feared their properties would not stand up to Iota so soon after already taking a battering from Eta.
Eta’s torrential rains left the soil saturated with water and more prone to new landslides and floods.