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Page last updated at 11:15 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 12:15 UK

Biscuits only in Honduras mission

Deposed Honduras President Manuel Zelaya and supporters in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa (24 Sept 2009)

Deposed Honduras President Manuel Zelaya and his supporters have had to live on biscuits and are unable to wash, a Brazilian diplomat says.

Mr Zelaya has been taking refuge in Brazil's embassy in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa since making a surprise return on Monday.

About 50 people are believed to be with him, including family and supporters.

Diplomat Francisco Rezende Catunda told the BBC that the situation inside the embassy was "precarious".

"We have survived a few days eating biscuits, a very irregular diet," he told the BBC's Brazilian service, adding that the group had their first proper meal on Thursday.

"I wouldn't say that we are starving, but the situation is extremely precarious."

We support Mr Zelaya, but we are unable to accommodate so many people
Francisco Rezende Catunda

Mr Catunda said the people inside had no soap or towels and no changes of clothes.

He said the military, which is surrounding the building, had allowed only eight of the embassy's 12 staff to leave.

"Many of us have family obligations and need to leave, but are being prevented from doing so."

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People holed up in the Brazilian embassy cheer as food arrives

He said the troops were not respecting passes issued to people on the outside to allow access to the compound.

"They have not stated categorically that entry is forbidden, they just aren't responding to anything," he said.

'Inhuman'

The embassy building has been surrounded by police and troops since Mr Zelaya first appeared there on Monday, saying he had slipped back into Honduras on foot to restore democracy.

Security personnel check a delivery of food to the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras (24 September 2009)
Some food aid is being allowed into the embassy building

He had been in exile for nearly three months, after being driven from the country at gun point.

At least one person has died in protests around the embassy - Mr Zelaya's supporters put the figure at 10. A curfew order on Tegucigalpa was lifted on Thursday.

Mr Catunda said that in the early days, about 300 people were in the embassy with Mr Zelaya.

He said 50 or 60 people now remain, including Mr Zelaya's wife and other relatives, who are receiving food deliveries from the UN.

"It is a delicate situation," said Mr Catunda.

"We support Mr Zelaya, but we are unable to accommodate so many people."

Milton Benitez, a Zelaya supporter inside the embassy, said the deposed leader was sleeping on an inflatable mattress while many people were spending the nights on the floor.

I will submit myself to any trial because my hands are clean and my chin is up
Manuel Zelaya

"We are living in inhuman conditions," Mr Benitez told the AP news agency.

But he said Mr Zelaya had been encouraging everyone to "stay calm and be patient".

On Friday, Mr Zelaya and the interim government, led by Roberto Micheletti, held informal talks in a bid to end the stand-off.

Mr Zelaya said the meeting was a positive first step, but the interim government has stressed the talks are not about returning him to power.

The crisis erupted after Mr Zelaya tried to hold a non-binding public consultation in July, asking people whether they supported moves to change the constitution.

His opponents said the move was unconstitutional and was aimed at removing the current one-term limit on serving as president, so paving the way for Mr Zelaya's possible re-election. He has denied this.

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