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Sunday, November 1, 1998 Published at 05:33 GMT

World: Americas

Volcano slides onto Nicaraguan village

Residents in the capital had been hit by flooding earlier in the week

The civil defence authorities in Nicaragua say a village in the north of the country has been buried beneath a landslide from the side of a volcano.

BBC's Peter Greste: "Valley could not withstand deluge"
Some radio reports said up to 1,000 people died in the mudslide; but emergency officials believe that the village of Argelia may have been evacuated before the accident, averting heavy loss of life.

A town official told Nicaraguan radio that rescue workers had pulled 58 bodies from the mud, while the Red Cross reported at least 70 deaths.

Officials were alerted to the disaster when bodies began floating down past the nearby town of Chinandega.

Helicopters have repeatedly tried to reach the area flying from the capital, Managua, but so far without any success.

Correspondents say there is no likelihood of reaching the volcano before Sunday morning local time.

Pleas for assistance

Peter Greste: "Entire suburbs devastated"
Torrential rain is continuing to fall in the area, though it has eased off elsewhere for the first time in five days, allowing emergency services to reach some flood victims in the worst affected areas

The governments of both Nicaragua and Honduras have called for urgent international aid to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch.

The UK Government has sent a frigate, HMS Sheffield, to Honduras, to help the humanitarian effort.

Some 350 people have been killed in Honduras, and at least another 70 in Nicaragua, apart from those in Argelia.
[ image: Homeless victims of Hurricane Mitch in Honduras]
Homeless victims of Hurricane Mitch in Honduras
Downgraded from a hurricane on Friday, the storm destroyed vast areas of remote and desperately poor countryside.

One Honduran family lost six children in a mudslide, and a sailing ship with 30 people on board is missing off the coast.

Although the country's capital, Tegucigalpa, sits high above sea level, flooding there has brought down bridges and destroyed whole suburbs. BBC Central America correspondent Peter Greste says that with only minimal health-care facilities in the region the danger of disease is likely to push the death toll much higher.

The authorities are concerned that tropical diseases like cholera, malaria and dengue fever will start to spread.

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