Otto gains hurricane status in the Caribbean

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The Latest on tropical weather in the Carribbean (all times local):

4 p.m.

Forecasters say Otto has gained hurricane status in the Carribbean as it edges closer to parts of Central America.

The Miami-based U.S. National Hurricane Center says Otto strengthened Tuesday and now has top sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph). The forecasters say the storm is centered about 235 miles (375 kilometers) east of Limon, Costa Rica.

Otto is also about 305 miles (485 kilometers) east-southeast of Bluefields, Nicaragua. It is moving west at 2 mph (4 kph) after being almost stationary earlier Tuesday.

The hurricane center says Colombia has issued a tropical storm warning for San Andres Island. Nicaragua has posted a tropical storm watch for that Central American nation from Bluefields to Sandy Bay Sirpi. Some other areas in the region also under a tropical storm watch or warning.

Forecasters say more strengthening is expected in coming days.

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2:20 p.m.

Civil defense officials in Panama say the country has already seen three deaths blamed on late-season Tropical Storm Otto.

The agency says two people died in landslides, and a child was killed when a tree fell on a car outside a school in Panama City.

Panama announced Tuesday it was cancelling classes it began to release water from locks and lakes feeding the Panama Canal.

Otto is gained strength in the Caribbean and could become a hurricane soon as it heads for a possible Thursday landfall in Costa Rica or Nicaragua.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the storm has top sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph) and is nearly stationary about 245 miles (395 kilometers) east of Limon, Costa Rica..