HAVANA, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- Tropical storm Eta dumped heavy rains on Cuba on Sunday as it crossed from the south to north of the island, causing several rivers to overflow.
According to the Institute of Meteorology (Insmet), at 9 a.m. local time Eta exited Cuban territory at Chambas, about 40 kilometers northwest of the city of Moron, in the central province of Ciego de Avila.
"It is forecast that after a slight weakening while crossing over Cuban territory, Eta, upon emerging into the Old Bahama Channel, will gradually gain in organization and intensity," Insmet said.
Eta is very close to becoming a hurricane again when it moves through the vicinity of the Florida Keys, according to Insmet.
The storm entered the island Sunday at Palo Alto, a coastal town in the south of Ciego de Avila, at 4:30 a.m. local time, with maximum sustained winds of 100 kilometers per hour, said Insmet.
Heavy rains were reported in the eastern half of the island, where local authorities and Civil Defense evacuated thousands of residents to higher ground as rains caused flooding.
Early Saturday morning, the government declared an alert that suspended air and maritime transportation between Havana and Isla de la Juventud, in addition to canceling bus and rail services in most of the country.
Eta, which made landfall in Nicaragua on Tuesday as a powerful hurricane and then passed through Honduras, left devastating damage in Central America, especially in Guatemala, where at least 27 people have died and more than 100 have been reported missing.
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