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Hurricane Felix Kills at Least 60 in Nicaragua


Nicaraguan officials say at least 60 people have been killed by Hurricane Felix, which hit the nation's Caribbean coast on Tuesday. In Miami, VOA's Brian Wagner reports aid crews in Mexico are trying to recover from a separate storm that hit the nation's Pacific coast on Wednesday.

Nicaragua's northeastern coast suffered the worst damage from Hurricane Felix when it came ashore Tuesday, bringing heavy rains and winds of up to 260 kilometers per hour. The category-five storm destroyed thousands of homes and ripped off roofs in and around the city of Puerto Cabezas, which is home to many Miskito Indians.

Security officials said thousands of people were left homeless by the storm and said rescue crews were searching for scores of people who may have been swept out to sea by powerful waves.

Wednesday, Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega toured areas hit by the hurricane, and said relief aid had begun arriving from abroad.

Ortega said international aid was coming from several nations that are sending airplanes with supplies, including Venezuela and Honduras.

U.S. military officials said they are working with Nicaraguan officials to provide assistance. The Pentagon said an assessment team had arrived in Puerto Cabezas, and two naval ships were standing by to provide any emergency aid the country needs.

U.S.-based relief group CARE International said it has a team in Puerto Cabezas to distribute food and clean water to 20,000 people in the area. CARE spokesman Rick Perera said aid supplies are needed to prevent serious health problems among survivors.

"If we do not get clean water to people there is a chance of outbreak of diseases," he said. "One of our staff in one of the most affected small villages said children are already starting to have diarrhea from drinking contaminated water."

Hurricane Felix also hit parts of Honduras, causing floods and mudslides, but officials expressed relief that the storm did not cause more serious damage. The latest storm triggered memories of Hurricane Mitch, which killed at least 10,000 people in Honduras and Nicaragua in 1998.

In Mexico, officials were beginning to assess damage from Hurricane Henriette, which hit the nation's Pacific coast on Wednesday for the second time in two days. Weather forecasters said Henriette had been downgraded from a hurricane as it moved across mainland Mexico, where it is expected to dump several centimeters of rain.

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