Colombia Extends Hand to Honduras Following Hurricane Eta
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo November 20, 2020
In response to a request from Honduras, as a member of the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces, the Colombian government deployed a Colombian Air Force (FAC, in Spanish) C-130 Hercules aircraft to deliver humanitarian aid to Honduras, to help the people affected by Hurricane Eta, which struck the nation on November 4, 2020.
The aircraft, loaded with 11.5 tons of equipment and carrying a Colombian Civil Defense group, landed at the Honduran Air Force’s Armando Escalón Espinal Air Base in San Pedro Sula on November 12, said the Honduran National Defense Secretariat (SEDENA, in Spanish). Honduran presidential representative María Antonia Rivera received the Colombian delegation of 38 professionals, including medical, nursing, and rescue personnel.
The equipment includes a field hospital to treat 250 low-complexity patients, a cabin for suspected COVID-19 patients, a unified command post, and autonomous water, electricity, and communications services, SEDENA said.
On November 13, the second flight delivered three rescue boats and an all-terrain vehicle, the Colombian Ministry of Defense told the press.
Colombia also mobilized a FAC UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with rescuers and equipment to evacuate personnel in jungle areas, on the ground, and in open waters; and to assist with night vision goggles to provide 24-hour coverage for this operation, the FAC indicated on November 11.
On its first rescue mission in Honduran territory, the Black Hawk crew delivered 5 tons of food and evacuated 38 people from high-risk areas, the FAC reported on November 14.
According to the United Nations, Eta has been one of the most challenging hurricanes since Mitch, in 1998. In Honduras, at least 58 people died and more than 2 million people were affected by floods or collapses due to Eta, the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reported on November 19. Authorities have evacuated more than 88,000 people and rescued 50,000 others in different operations led by contingency teams from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, with the support of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), in coordination with the Honduran Armed Forces.
According to the Pan American Health Organization’s website, in recent decades, Honduras has been hit by several hurricanes, such as Gamma (2005), Beta (2005), Michelle (2001), Katrina (1999), and Mitch (1988). An increase in human settlements in high-risk areas, inappropriate use and deterioration of soil, and poverty among the Honduran population are determining factors in the disaster incidence caused by floods, the organization added.