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9/08/2007

Hurricane Felix death toll rises

Central America
At least 98 people have been killed and thousands left homeless after Hurricane Felix lashed Nicaragua and Honduras earlier this week, officials say.

Dozens of people are still missing and rescuers are trawling jungles, open seas and beaches for more survivors.

Both countries remain on alert for heavy floods in the storm's aftermath.

Officials are only now uncovering the scale of devastation caused by Felix, which hit land as a maximum strength category five storm on Tuesday.

"It is worse than we previously thought," Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said as he met officials.

"Many families stayed in their homes. There are many victims, many dead."

Nicaragua bore the brunt of the hurricane, with winds of up 256km/h (160mph). Neighbouring Honduras was hit mainly by flooding.

Aid agencies are struggling to reach the worst-affected area, around the Nicaraguan town of Puerto Cabezas. In one case, soldiers distributed food to a remote village where residents had been surviving on nothing but coconuts.

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