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More Death In Mitch's Wake

As survivors formed lines for rationed water and gasoline on Thursday, the threat of deadly epidemics loomed over flood-ravaged Central America. So far, as many as 9,000 people are believed to have been killed.

CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts reports that in the Tegucigalpa barrios along Cholutera River, where Mitch dropped an ocean of water, women washed clothes on rocks in the same water where many of their neighbors died.

The Cholutera River rose so high that massive mudslides tore apart bridges, and damaged or destroyed almost every house. Rescue teams are still finding bodies, and more are still missing.

CBS News Correspondent Jacqueline Adams reports that Mitch caused an estimated $1 billion worth of damage to Honduran roads - making it tougher to get relief supplies to those desperately in need. With 80 percent of the country destroyed, officials fear it may take 40 to 50 years to rebuild.

The head of epidemiology at El Salvador's health ministry, Santiago Almeida, said outbreaks of respiratory disease, skin infections, and conjunctivitis could probably be controlled in his nation, the smallest in Central America, where 239 died.

But "epidemics will probably appear next week when typhoid, diarrhea, cholera, and dengue start to emerge," Almeida said.

"There are no crops to harvest, few wild foods to forage for, and no animals to slaughter," top U.N. World Food Program official Rosa Antolin told reporters in Rome. "The destruction is huge. ... In just one day, the region has been set back 20 years."



Officials warned of hunger and disease as mosquitoes multiplied in pools of stagnant water in the tropical heat.

"There are many regions where the population is beginning to suffer hunger and is drinking contaminated water because they are marooned and have no services," said Dimas Alonso, operations chief of the national emergency commission.

Another 1,452 people have been confirmed dead in Nicaragua, and perhaps as many as 2,000 may have been buried under the collapsing slope of the Casita volcano.

In Honduras, main highways connecting Tegucigalpa, a city of 800,000, to the rest of the country were cut, creating shortages of gasoline, drinking water, and food in the hard-hit capital. Without gasoline, aid can't be delivered by truck. Nearly all aircraft are being used in continuing searches for survivors.

Industrialized nations around the globe pledged more aid for CentraAmerica, and Pope John Paul II pleaded for the world to send food and medicine.

President Clinton on Thursday ordered that $30 million in U.S. Defense Department equipment and services be provided for emergency disaster relief in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

"This is the worst disaster we have seen in this hemisphere," Brian Atwood, head of the Agency for International Development, told reporters at a White House briefing. He also announced that an additional $20 million in emergency food aid will be sent to the area aboard Boeing 747s, starting Saturday.

The $30 million in Pentagon assets will include emergency supplies, search and rescue equipment, and engineering services, officials said. American helicopters also will continue to operate in isolated areas to rescue stranded people and to deliver humanitarian relief supplies, officials said.

Mexico launched one of the biggest airlifts in its history and lent badly needed helicopters while Europe announced it had approved $8 million in humanitarian aid.

But the aid pledged so far was unlikely to be enough due to the sheer number of victims spread across inaccessible countryside.