Tropical storm Eta forms in Caribbean, takes aim at Nicaragua

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(Reuters) - Tropical storm Eta formed in the Caribbean on Saturday evening, headed toward the coast of Nicaragua and Honduras, which it is expected to lash with heavy rain and hurricane-strength winds in the coming days, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

By early Tuesday, the storm is forecast to hit the northeast coast of Nicaragua near the Honduran border, the NHC said. By then, Eta is due to have strengthened into a hurricane and could be packing winds of up to 90 miles per hour (145 kph).

The Miami-based NHC said that through Thursday evening, Eta's rains may lead to flooding across parts of Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Central America. That in turn could spark landslides in areas of higher terrain, it added.

The southern fringe of the island of Hispaniola could also face floods, depending the storm's progress, the center said.

By late evening, Eta was about 270 miles (435 km) southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, moving west at 15 mph (24 kph).

(Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Sam Holmes and William Mallard)