Tuesday, November 10, 1998 Published at 06:29 GMT
Central American leaders urge debt relief
Leaders from Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador
Central American presidents have appealed for the debts of Nicaragua and Honduras to be written off to help them overcome the devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Mitch.
"We lost in 72 hours what we have taken more than 50 years to build, bit by bit," said Honduran President Carlos Flores.
The four presidents, joined by Guatemala's foreign minister, agreed to support an appeal to write off debt estimated at $10bn owed by Honduras and Nicaragua, two of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere and the worst hit by the widespread flooding.
The World Bank has announced it is providing a further $130m for Central American countries, bringing the total of emergency World Bank aid for the region to about $200m.
Officials say the money will be diverted from existing long-term projects to help the reconstruction effort.
Money sent back to the region by overseas workers is crucial to all their economies.
Warnings of disease
Meanwhile aid workers have been warning that hunger and disease could add to the 10,000 deaths already known to have resulted from the hurricane.
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.
With Honduran officials estimating that 20% of the country has been made homeless, it is feared that famine could spread.
Rescue teams are rebuilding bridges and roads in an effort to deliver aid to remote areas.
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.
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.