Novmeber 5, 1998

Epidemics feared in Mitch's wake

                  TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (CNN) -- Authorities in Honduras and
                  Nicaragua fear an outbreak of cholera and other diseases in the wake of the
                  devastation from Hurricane Mitch.

                  Thousands of dead bodies and sewage contaminating drinking water
                  supplies have raised the specter of epidemic. With morgues
                  overwhelmed by the numbers of dead, bodies are being buried in mass
                  graves in the countryside.

                  "We're surrounded by mud, waste and contaminated water," said Menecan
                  de Manzia of the Honduran Red Cross. "This is going to cause epidemics."

                  In Tegucigalpa, where a million people were left without running water,
                  people were lining up at 5 a.m. to fill buckets at communal taps. Fuel was
                  being rationed, and food was in short supply.

                  With major routes into the capital cut off by mudslides, hundreds of people
                  formed a human chain around a road blockage Thursday to bring produce
                  into the city.

                 Aid pours in from U.S., Mexico, Europe

                  In Washington, President Bill Clinton ordered that $30 million in Defense
                  Department equipment and services and $36 million in food, fuel and other
                  aid be provided to Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and
                  Guatemala to ease the human suffering.

                  The $30 million in Pentagon aid will include emergency supplies,
                  search-and-rescue equipment and engineering services, officials said. More
                  U.S. helicopters will be sent to isolated areas to rescue stranded people and
                  to deliver relief supplies, officials said.

                  Aid was coming from elsewhere, too. Mexico launched one of the biggest
                  airlifts in its history and offered 28 helicopters to Honduras and Nicaragua to
                  help get food and other supplies around in those countries.

                  Europe announced it had approved $8 million in humanitarian aid.

                  But as badly needed relief supplies poured into the region, rescuers were
                  finding the aid difficult to distribute to areas where flooding wiped away most
                  of the roads and bridges.

                 Death toll 9,000, with thousands missing

                  The Honduran government estimates that as many as 6,500 Hondurans
                  died and up to 1 million are homeless as a result of Hurricane Mitch. All
                  told, officials say Mitch killed nearly 9,000 people in Central America,
                  although thousands more remain missing.

                  In northern Nicaragua, the grisly task of burying or burning bodies
                  continued near the Casitas volcano, where a crater lake collapsed Friday.
                  Two hundred more corpses were found there Wednesday, boosting the
                  confirmed death toll there to about 1,600. As many as 2,000 were feared

                  More than 750,000 people lost their homes or possessions across
                  Nicaragua, and 1,804 were listed as missing.

                  "People in Nicaragua are getting desperate," said Francisco Aguirre-Sacasa,
                  Nicaragua's ambassador to the United States. "The fact that they're hungry,
                  the fact that they're short of potable drinking water, the fact that they don't
                  have shelter could cause their sullenness to break into a more dangerous and
                  dramatic situation."

                 Travel plans for Mrs. Gore, Mrs. Clinton

                  The aid announced by the White House on Thursday is in addition to a
                  previous commitment to Central America, including personnel,
                  equipment and relief supplies.

                  The White House also announced that Clinton was dispatching Tipper Gore,
                  wife of Vice President Al Gore, to Central America on a mission to show
                  U.S. commitment to provide humanitarian relief.

                  She will be in the region Tuesday and Wednesday, accompanied by a small
                  congressional delegation and Brian Atwood, head of the Agency for
                  International Development.

                  Hillary Rodham Clinton will visit Nicaragua and Honduras on November 16.
                  She then will stop in El Salvador and Guatemala before continuing on to
                  Haiti and the Dominican Republic for a visit that had been canceled due to
                  Hurricane Georges, which struck the Caribbean in October.

                   Correspondents Lucia Newman and Harris Whitbeck contributed to
                                          this report.