Officials put the Honduran death toll at 7,000, with another 11,000 people injured, 10,000 missing and 800,000 houses damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Mitch. In Nicaragua, the toll was 2,362 dead, 287 injured, 970 missing and 36,000 houses destroyed or damaged.
The president said repairs could cost four times Honduras' $1.2bn annual budget. He urged the United States and other countries to forgive Honduras' $4.3bn (pounds 2.6bn) debt, grant it free-trade status and help with "a massive supply of fresh resources to aid in rebuilding the country".
In the northern Honduran town of La Mesa, US soldiers planned to help open a key road buried by the hurricane. There were reports that diverting equipment to the Gulf may have slowed the US relief effort.
In the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, law students dug with shovels alongside earth-moving equipment, trying to rid the city of thick layers of mud.
Six Japan defence-force aircraft left yesterday on a relief mission to Honduras in Tokyo's first dispatch of military units for disaster aid abroad. (AP)