Tropical storm Otto kills four in Panama

At least four people have died in Panama in severe weather caused by the approach of Tropical Storm Otto, officials say.

Two victims died in a mudslide, a girl drowned in a river and a boy died when a tree fell on the car taking him to school. His mother, driving, survived.

The Panamanian education minister has suspended classes until Thursday.

The US National Hurricane Center says Otto is now near hurricane strength and approaching Costa Rica and Nicaragua, according to BBC.

Panamanian officials said about 50 homes were destroyed by mudslides. Flights have been delayed.

Also in Panama, one Colombian man is missing after having been dragged away by a river swollen by heavy rainfall.

A further day of heavy rain is forecast in Panama with gusts of up to 80 km/h.

The governments of Nicaragua and Costa Rica have issued a hurricane watch from Costa Rica's southern border to the city of Bluefields in Nicaragua.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasts that Otto will make landfall in Costa Rica or Nicaragua on Thursday.

Meteorologists have warned of life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in this area.

There is also a likelihood of dangerous surf and rip current conditions over the next several days along the coasts of Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the NHC says.

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