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Hillary To Tour Mitch Damage

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is scheduled to arrive Monday in Managua. She is one of several dignitaries touring Central America to see first-hand the devastation of Hurricane Mitch.

Spanish Crown Prince Felipe began a tour of storm-ravaged Central America on Saturday, and Spain announced it will send $15 million in aid and supplies.

The prince toured the northern Nicaraguan towns of Tipitapa and Sebaco, which were hard hit by Mitch last month. He also was to visit a shelter in Managua for residents of communities around Lake Nicaragua.

French President Jacques Chirac arrived Saturday in Guatemala to start his tour of Central America. He had spent the past three days in Mexico.

In San Salvador, El Salvador, Spanish Ambassador Andres Collado said his government and several non-government organizations would soon send $15 million worth of medicine, supplies and clothes to Central America.

Mitch killed an estimated 10,000 people throughout the region. Countries from around the world have promised millions of dollars in grants and debt relief, but many Central Americans have expressed frustration at the slow pace of foreign aid.

Thousands of Hondurans remain cut off from emergency food supplies shipped in after Hurricane Mitch, and some are on the brink of starvation, religious and political leaders have said.



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CBS News Correspondent John Roberts has an exclusive photojournalism report on relief efforts.

"In some towns, they told me that they have not received help, and they sent me an SOS because they are dying of hunger," Oscar Rodriguez, the archbishop of the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, told reporters.

Others said that despite an international outpouring of help and promises by several nations to forgive the poor region's debts, the sheer destruction meant many still needed food. They were cut off due to storm damage and relying on a limited fleet of helicopters to deliver aid.

"The people in my province are hungry; the water is polluted, and mothers can't even provide a bottle for their babies," said congressman Salomon Martinez of northern Colon province.

He said 47,000 people were cut off from a regular supply of food in Colon.

"These people are in a serious situaion," he said. "Even though they have money, they can't buy anything because the supermarkets and stores are out of supplies."

Tipper Gore, wife of Vice President Al Gore, said during a mercy mission in Nicaragua that the international community has pledged $40 million in aid on top of the $80 million set aside by the United States.

"Our commitment is long term," Mrs. Gore said before touring a refugee camp on the outskirts of Managua. She spent a night in a refugee camp in Honduras.

Taking some of the sting out for locals was the occasional brush with celebrities. Dennis Martinez, the winningest Latin American pitcher in Major League history, was mobbed by baseball aficionados in Nicaragua during a visit to a refugee camp for homeless hurricane victims.

Bianca Jagger, the ex-wife of Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger, returned to her native Nicaragua on Wednesday with 60,000 pounds of medicine and food for storm victims.

The World Bank announced it was diverting $200 million from existing projects to Central American hurricane relief, Spain upped its aid to $192 million in cash and debt relief, and Switzerland came up with nearly $6.5 million in private and government donations.

Yet those pledges are far outweighed by the economic damage, which is estimated at $3 billion in Honduras, an amount nearly equal to its annual gross domestic product, and $1 billion in Nicaragua, half its annual economic output.

Honduras said it had set up a special presidential Cabinet for Reconstruction, made up of top cabinet members and other private sector leaders.

"We need to face together the apocalyptic reality of our towns and cities," Honduran President Carlos Flores said in a nationally televised address.

Planeloads of food, clothing, and medicine continued to arrive from around the world to ease the misery caused by the deadliest Atlantic hurricane in two centuries.

The United States has delivered more than 1,000 metric tons of food to Honduras alone, but roads to many towns are still cut off.

Honduras has enough grain to last 40 days, so the country has planned to boost imports of beans, rice, and corn "to avoid a generalized starvation," said Miguel Bonilla, the deputy agriculture minister.

"The situation is critical, and there could be hunger and disease," Sergio de Mello, the U.N. undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, told a news conference. "This is a true disaster that will require assistance for several years."
©1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report