Hurricane Mitch is now considered to be the strongest and most damaging hurricane to ever hit the Caribbean and Central America. At its height, the hurricane had sustained winds of 180 mph and dumped heavy rains over Central America. As the hurricane traveled inland over Honduras, the tropical storm produced torrential rains which caused catastrophic floods and landslides throughout the region.
Honduras suffered the brunt of Hurricane Mitch. Extensive wind damage and devastating floods have been reported nationwide. The Honduran National Emergency Commission (CONEH) reports that 6,546 persons were killed, 6,586 are missing, 1.5 million people were affected, and approximately 1.1 million were displaced. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates at least 70,000 houses have been destroyed and the Government of Honduras reports 170 bridges have been damaged or destroyed. Damage to the nation’s infrastructure has isolated entire communities making access by emergency aid workers extremely difficult and it has hampered efforts to supply the larger cities with food, water and other essentials. Estimates indicate that nearly 70 percent of crops were destroyed by Hurricane Mitch.
Honduras Bishop Leo Frade says the cleanup continues, and contributions and prayers are still welcome.
Mitch inflicted its greatest damage in Nicaragua through severe rains that caused extensive flooding and landslides. The Nicaraguan National Defense System estimates that 2,042 people have died and 1,094 are missing, many as a result of a large mudslide that inundated ten communities situated at the base of the Casitas Volcano, and that 807,480 people were affected nationwide. Nicaraguan officials report that 71 bridges are either destroyed or heavily damaged, and OCHA estimated that 70% of roads were impassable immediately after the storm.
The storm moved northwest across Guatemala, causing heavy rains and severe flooding. The national emergency office (CONRED) took steps to evacuate 5,969 people prior to the storm’s arrival. Officials report a total of 258 deaths and 120 people are missing in Guatemala, while 723,581 people are still at risk. OCHA reported that 347 homes, 21 bridges, and 30 roads have been severely damaged or destroyed by the flood waters.
The National Emergency Committee (NEC) of El Salvador reports that 239 people are dead and 135 missing as a result of flash floods, and the Red Cross estimates that 400 people have died and 600 are missing. OCHA reports heavy infra structural damage to bridges, roads, and electric and telephone lines in eastern and central El Salvador.
From Action by Churches Together,
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