Wednesday, November 11, 1998 Published at 16:25 GMT
Mitch appeal response 'best ever'
The region's economies have been devastated
The UK appeal to raise funds for Central American victims of Hurricane Mitch received £1.5m in credit card pledges from 73,000 donors on its first day.
Donations are now expected to reach at least £10m - far outstripping the original £7m target - to add to the £5m already given by the agencies.
The French government has already offered to scrap the debts it was owed by countries devastated by the disaster.
Reconstruction is estimated to cost at least £1.5bn.
'We want to help'
He hoped that the offers to get the fund rolling would encourage other countries to contribute.
"We want to do what we can and play our full part and help not only not only with what is to be done immediately, but with the rebuilding of the economies."
He pointed out that recent changes to tax relief regulations, meant that a donation of £100, even if spread over three years, could mean a charity benefited by up to £140.
Up to one million are thought to be homeless. The destruction of most crops in the region has raised the threat of widespread starvation.
A lack of clean water and medical supplies has also increased the risk of disease.
Numerous bridges and roads were destroyed or rendered impassable by Mitch.
British agencies have already begun to fly into the region and hundreds of UK troops are helping to get supplies through to isolated regions of Nicaragua and Honduras.
The number to call to contribute to the aid agencies' appeal is 0870 60 60 900.