Storm Deaths Hit 450; Mud Buries Towns
Mudslides buried several communities near Nicaragua’s northwestern border with Honduras, killing at least 58 people, according to a local mayor, and pushing up the death toll from one of the strongest Caribbean hurricanes to at least 450.
Only 57 of the 2,500 people living in 10 communities at the foot of Casita Volcano had been accounted for by Saturday evening, Mayor Felicita Zeledon of Posoltega, about 20 miles south of the mudslide area, told the government’s Radio Nicaragua. Rescue workers had pulled 58 bodies from the mud, she said.
“It is like a desert littered with buried bodies,” Zeledon said, citing reports from rescue workers.
There was no immediate independent confirmation of Zeledon’s report.
It was the first official word of any mudslide deaths in the northwestern province of Chinandega, where unconfirmed radio reports said as many as 4,000 people may have been killed when mud came crashing down the volcano.
The official Nicaraguan casualty toll also included 121 who died in the heavy rains and flooding.
In Honduras, at least 231 people had been confirmed dead from former Hurricane Mitch, the National Emergency Commission said Saturday. With rainfall of 4 inches an hour at the height of the storm, downed bridges, rampant rivers, toppled trees and mudslides isolated hundreds of communities where food, water and medicine were in short supply.
Army helicopters rescued some flood victims clinging to rooftops in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.