The worst hurricane in the western hemisphere this century claimed more than 11,000 lives in Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize and Costa Rica when it struck on 27 October. About the same number of people are still missing, after huge tracts of land were flooded and whole villages washed out to sea.
The devastation has set development back at least 20 years in the poorest nations in Latin America. The countries are facing epidemics of cholera, typhoid and tetanus.
Independent readers had donated pounds 99,072 by yesterday afternoon. Fiona Fox, of the Disasters Emergency Committee, which represents 15 major charities and is co-ordinating The Independent's appeal, said: "This gives the lie to the concept of `compassion fatigue' and shows Independent readers care passionately about what happens to people in developing nations.
"It's a tragedy of biblical proportions. People have grasped there is huge, long-term damage to these countries."
A TV appeal raised a further pounds 1.8m on its first night.