Three countries devatstated by hurricane Mitch
Friday 06 November 1998
Access to some of the worst affected areas is still
practically impossible because of destroyed roads and bridges, and a reported 345 mud slides. The current death toll of 350 is expected to rise. Fifty thousand
people are in need of assistance in 300 shelters.
El Salvador's health ministry says epidemics will probably appear next week when typhoid, diarrhoea, cholera and dengue start to emerge. A case of severe psychosis - possibly the first of many - has been reported in a person who saw a raging river sweep 160 people to their deaths in Chilanguera, 90 miles (150 km) southeast of the capital.
At least half the country is severely affected by the
hurricane. An estimated 1,300 people have died with
another 3,000 missing after the collapse and subsequent landslide of the water-filled Casita volcanic crater. Three quarters of a million have been evacuated from their homes to just 200 shelters. Only yesterday rescue workers stumbled across 200 bodies in the bend of a river. The dead were residents of Chichigalpa, a village near Casita. An unexpected hazard is mines planted by guerrillas in the civil war of the 1980s, which could surface in flooded areas. An estimated 100,000 mines were left behind.
Honduras is worst affected of all the countries in the region. Five thousand Hondurans have died, with another 12,000 missing. A quarter of a million are refugees. Nearly the whole of the country - 85 per cent - is under water, and 75 per cent of agriculture has been destroyed. The capital, Tegucigalpa, is ruined, with virtually no communications to the outside world. As much as 60 per cent of the infrastructure - including many thousands of houses and 73 bridges - has been destroyed. Honduras has estimated the bill it faces to repair damage at US$2bn, a third of its annual economic output.
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