Poverty & Deforestation Aided Mitch's Destruction in Central

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 15 Nov 1998 23:06:29 -0400


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Yahoo! News - Science Headlines - November 11, 1998


GEOGRAPHY, POVERTY AIDED MITCH'S DESTRUCTION


LONDON (Reuters) - Local geography and poverty, not just the storm's sheer
force, were why Honduras and other Central American countries took such a
beating from Hurricane Mitch, New Scientist magazine said Wednesday.

Mitch, the deadliest hurricane in 200 years, killed an estimated 11,000
people. But it was not the most powerful hurricane in the last two
centuries and by the time it hit Honduras it had been officially downgraded
to a tropical storm.

``The problems came when Mitch hit Central America's mountainous terrain.
Its moisture-rich air cooled as it was forced upwards, unleashing a deluge
that obliterated entire villages,'' the weekly magazine said.

Although more than 600 millimeters (23.6 inches) of rain fell in the
mountains of Honduras in a single day, that alone would not have caused the
devastation the country experienced.

``The crucial thing is removing vegetation -- if you take that out of the
system, you've lost the natural bonding and the area will be prone to gully
erosion and mass movement,'' Paul Gostelow, a soil erosion specialist at
the British Geological Survey in Keyworth, England, told the magazine.

The country's poverty was also a contributing factor. People were forced to
clear land for buildings and grazing in areas vulnerable to mudslides. They
also lived in substandard housing.

``Knowing the geology and topography and past and present land use can give
clues to the areas most at risk,'' added Gostelow.

An estimated three million people were affected by Mitch. Thousands were
still missing as international aid began to arrive in Central American
nations.

The World Bank announced Tuesday that it was diverting $200 million from
existing projects to supply aid to the countries devastated by the
hurricane.

Leaders of the countries hit by Mitch also pleaded for debt relief so they
could begin to rebuild their tattered economies.

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Yahoo! News - Science Headlines - November 11, 1998=20



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>GEOGRAPHY, POVERTY AIDED MITCH'S
DESTRUCTION

</paraindent>


LONDON (Reuters) - Local geography and poverty, not just the storm's
sheer force, were why Honduras and other Central American countries
took such a beating from Hurricane Mitch, New Scientist magazine said
Wednesday.


Mitch, the deadliest hurricane in 200 years, killed an estimated 11,000
people. But it was not the most powerful hurricane in the last two
centuries and by the time it hit Honduras it had been officially
downgraded to a tropical storm.


``The problems came when Mitch hit Central America's mountainous
terrain. Its moisture-rich air cooled as it was forced upwards,
unleashing a deluge that obliterated entire villages,'' the weekly
magazine said.


Although more than 600 millimeters (23.6 inches) of rain fell in the
mountains of Honduras in a single day, that alone would not have caused
the devastation the country experienced.


``The crucial thing is removing vegetation -- if you take that out of
the system, you've lost the natural bonding and the area will be prone
to gully erosion and mass movement,'' Paul Gostelow, a soil erosion
specialist at the British Geological Survey in Keyworth, England, told
the magazine.


The country's poverty was also a contributing factor. People were
forced to clear land for buildings and grazing in areas vulnerable to
mudslides. They also lived in substandard housing.


``Knowing the geology and topography and past and present land use can
give clues to the areas most at risk,'' added Gostelow.


An estimated three million people were affected by Mitch. Thousands
were still missing as international aid began to arrive in Central
American nations.


The World Bank announced Tuesday that it was diverting $200 million
from existing projects to supply aid to the countries devastated by the
hurricane.


Leaders of the countries hit by Mitch also pleaded for debt relief so
they could begin to rebuild their tattered economies.


END FORWARD

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 receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. *=
*


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