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Monday, November 9, 1998 Published at 12:40 GMT

World: Americas

Disease fears grow for hurricane survivors

Clean water is in short supply

Aid workers are warning that hunger and disease could raise the death toll from Hurricane Mitch, which has already killed more than 10,000 people across Central America.

BBC's Jon Brain: Reports of cholera and typhoid
Supplies of food and medicine are starting to reach flood victims in some areas, but many places are still difficult to access, and clean drinking water is in short supply.

Survivors are being urged to steer clear of muddy rivers that may carry human and animal remains, and to filter, chlorinate and boil water before drinking it.

[ image: Starved to death]
Starved to death
Health officials have reported thousands of cases of respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia, and at least 17 cases of hepatitis A.

A seven-month-old baby is reported to have died of starvation in Honduras, while another child has died of haemorrhagic dengue.

With Honduran officials estimating that 20% of the country has been made homeless, it is feared that famine could spread.

Aid arrives

David Loyn: Honduras needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up
Rescue teams are rebuilding bridges and roads in an effort to deliver aid to remote areas.

A British rescue team and the Nicaraguan army have joined efforts to help about 30,000 people stranded by flood waters of the Coco river on Nicaragua's border with Honduras.

Tom Gibb in Honduras: "Serious economic blow"
The river has cut off communities in the north-east of the country for the past 10 days and reports say entire villages are suffering from severe diarrhoea and vomiting.

Aid trucks are also reported to have reached Posoltega, the community where 2,000 people are believed to have been killed in a mudslide down the side of a volcano.

[ image: Stagnant water increases the threat of disease]
Stagnant water increases the threat of disease
In Honduras, the road to the southern city of Choluteca has been rebuilt, and essential supplies of food, fuel and drinking water are now being brought to the city.

Engineers have also managed to link the capital, Tegucigalpa, with the main port, allowing aid shipments delivered by sea to be moved on.

But in eastern Honduras there are reports of new landslides burying two entire villages.

In many areas helicopters are still the only way of getting supplies to areas cut off by the flooding, but in Honduras a fuel shortage is threatening the airlift operations and in Nicaragua there is a lack of aircraft.

Calls for action

David Loyn in Tegucigalpa: Many areas have still not had aid
Former United States President George Bush has added his voice to the urgent calls for more international aid.

He has been on an unofficial visit to storm-ravaged parts of Honduras. Other big names such as Hillary Clinton are expected to visit the region in the coming days.

[ image: George Bush: High profile visitor]
George Bush: High profile visitor
Mr Bush said it was in America's interests to provide aid both for humanitarian reasons and to prevent a potentially huge tide of economic migrants heading for the US.

He said the US should take the lead in the relief effort and continue until Honduras's infrastructure was rebuilt. The economic damage done by the storm is likely to last for many years.

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