'Hard hit' Honduran economy tumbles on virus, back-to-back hurricanes

FILE PHOTO: Flood-affected people get on a boat to cross a street after passage of Storm Eta, in La Lima, Honduras November 7, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera/File Photo

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - The Honduran economy is expected to shrink by a record 10.5% this year due to the combined crisis of the coronavirus and two deadly hurricanes last month, President Juan Orlando Hernandez said Monday, its worst performance in more than six decades.

The contraction was worse than a previous estimate by the country’s central bank of between 8% and 9% as the impoverished Central American nation struggled under the weight of the pandemic and hurricanes Eta and Iota.

“This year will be marked in the history of Honduras as the year that three devastating elements hit us,” said Hernandez, speaking at an event.

“We are hard hit but we are not defeated,” he added.

The economic fall for 2020 far exceeds the country’s previous record in 1954, when the economy contracted 6.5% due to worker strikes.

Honduras’ economy was paralyzed under months of lockdown provoked by the coronavirus pandemic. Hurricanes Eta and Iota then tore through the region in November, affecting millions of people with massive flooding, destroying infrastructure and claiming at least 100 lives.

Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Jonathan Oatis