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Saturday, November 14, 1998 Published at 04:26 GMT


Mitch appeal tops £5m in three days

About one million people are homeless

The UK appeal to aid the central American countries devastated by Hurricane Mitch has reached the £5m mark, organisers estimate.

Hurricane Mitch
The public response has been so great that 73,000 credit card pledges of donations were received on the first day.

Almost 20,000 people called in with donations in one 90 minute period after commercials for the relief fund were shown on television on Thursday.

[ image: Emergency food supplies will be needed for months]
Emergency food supplies will be needed for months
The appeal, which was set up by the Disasters Emergency Committee on Wednesday, now looks certain to easily surpass its initial £7m target.

A spokesman for the DEC, a coalition of major UK aid agencies, said £2.5m had now been given by phone. A similar sum is also estimated to have arrived by post and through banks.

Ben Brown: Aid is getting through, but more is needed
"We estimate that £5m has now been received, based on how fast the money is pouring in compared with previous appeals. It is a fantastic response," the spokesman said.

Aid delivery

The new appeal total was disclosed on Friday as a second British Red Cross mercy flight landed in Honduras with 36 tonnes of aid.

The DC8 plane was delivering sanitation equipment, water purification tablets and medical kits to some of those most in need.

[ image: Many bridges and roads have been destroyed]
Many bridges and roads have been destroyed
It was due to fly on to Nicaragua, to unload medical kits.

A third plane is due to depart for the region on Thursday.

It is believed more than 11,000 people died during Hurricane Mitch's rampage across central America, with many more missing, presumed drowned.

About one million people are thought to have been made homeless by the crisis.

Hundreds of thousands of people remain stranded in remote areas with the threat of famine and disease breaking out as aid workers, assisted in some areas by UK troops, struggle to supply food, medical equipment and fresh water.

The number to call to contribute to the aid agencies' appeal is 0870 60 60 900.

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