| PUERTO CABEZAS, Nicaragua
PUERTO CABEZAS, Nicaragua Bodies of Miskito
Indians killed by Hurricane Felix floated in the Caribbean off
Central America and washed up on beaches on Thursday as the
death toll from the storm rose to over 60.
Many of the dead were traveling by boat when they were hit
by huge waves as Felix struck near the border between Honduras
and Nicaragua on Tuesday as a giant Category 5 storm.
Other victims appeared to have been sucked away from their
flimsy shacks on the shore. Nicaraguan fishermen told reporters
they saw bodies of people still tied to trees in a vain bid to
stay safe from winds of 160 mph (256 kph) and roaring seas.
"We have at 42 people dead," local Gov. Reynaldo Francis
told reporters, adding that he expected that figure to rise.
"In Honduras and in our territory on the coast ... more are
appearing," he said.
Relatives sheltering in the port of Puerto Cabezas wept as
soldiers in small boats carrying emergency food returned from
tiny coastal villages and reported inhabitants missing. Others
rejoiced as boats brought bedraggled survivors to the port.
The fierce storm struck fear into the local people.
"They told us a hurricane was coming and all the men and
women were in their houses crying," said Ana Isolina Alvarado,
an indigenous woman arriving from one of the tiny Cayos
Miskitos islets in a fishing boat. She took refuge from the
storm in the boat after it got trapped in nearby mangroves.
She told a local television channel that four of her family
were missing and dozens more from her village.
Up to 25 bodies floated in the sea near the Nicaraguan
border on Thursday, the Honduran civil protection agency said.
Reviving memories of Hurricane Mitch, which killed 10,000
people in Central America in 1998, Felix smashed up thousands
of flimsy wooden homes in Nicaragua, flattened trees and made
barely developed jungle areas even less passable than normal.
It mainly hit the turtle-fishing Miskitos, who formed a
British protectorate until the 19th century and still live in
wooden shacks in isolated and sparsely populated marshlands
dotted with lagoons and crocodile-infested rivers. Some 35,000
of them live in Honduras and more than 100,000 in Nicaragua.
Aerial images showed the area strewn with debris.
Felix came on the heels of another deadly Category 5 storm,
Hurricane Dean -- the first time on record that two Atlantic
storms made landfall as Category 5 hurricanes in one season.
An exact number of dead and missing was hard to come by.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said on Wednesday that more
than 200 people were missing, but 52 Miskito Indian survivors
were later fished out of the sea off Honduras.
"They were holding onto planks and buoys for hours," said
local Honduran deputy Carolina Echeverria. The Navy was amazed
when it found the Miskito Indians near Raya, close to the
Half the group were in good enough shape to be sent home on
a Nicaraguan Navy boat, while the rest were taken to hospitals
Teams of Nicaraguan soldiers distributed food to cut-off
villagers surviving on nothing but coconuts.
"We are still waiting for help," a Miskito woman called
Lilian told reporters in her coastal hamlet where 2,000 people
stood helplessly in the debris of their wrecked homes.
(Additional reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa
and Ivan Castro in Managua)