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Wednesday, November 4, 1998 Published at 17:42 GMT


British aid for hurricane victims

Aid is desperately needed - but reaching survivors is difficult

Britain has pledged £500,000 in emergency aid to help countries devastated by Hurricane Mitch.

The BBC's George Eykyn: The Aid pledged so far is not enough
The Department for International Development's (DID) announcement came as the death toll reached 9,000.

The figure makes it one of Central America's worst natural disasters.

In Honduras, 7,000 deaths have been confirmed, while 1,350 bodies have been recovered from the landslide in Nicaragua.

The DID said recipients of the aid would be Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras.

Meanwhile, British aid agencies are working round the clock to get help to the victims.

[ image: Transport routes have been swept away]
Transport routes have been swept away
Organisations including CAFOD and Oxfam are drawing up plans to raise funds for emergency relief.

They also want to be able to provide continuing aid which will help affected areas in the months and possibly years to come.

More than 18,000 people are now thought to have died in the flooding and storms through Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

And there are fears of famine with an estimated 70% of Central America's staple crops destroyed.

Individuals can help

CAFOD's Pat Jones: "Careful response"
The US and EU have already pledged several million pounds in relief aid.

But Oxfam - which has already mobilised its staff based in Central America - says help also needs to come from individuals.

Oxfam spokesman Maurice Herson said the charity would be looking to inject hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pounds into hurricane-ravaged countries.

He said continuing aid would be needed to prevent widespread sewage contamination and disease.

Pat Jones, from the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development said a major relief operation was needed.

Oxfam spokesman Maurice Herson: "Incredibly good track record of public responding"
She said: "They really need massive resources, of food and medicines particularly.

"It is difficult to assess exactly what the needs are, which is why it isn't really a case of slow response, just careful response.

"Obviously we are working through local organisations on the ground in order to find out what's needed, because the airports are closed, the bridges are down and the roads are flooded."

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