Gamma storm toll rises in Honduras

The death toll in Honduras from Tropical Storm Gamma increased on Monday to at least 15, with 13 people missing, officials said.

In neighbouring Belize, five fishermen were missing at sea because of the record 27th storm of the Atlantic season, Belize media said.

Honduran authorities launched a major operation to rescue people stranded by floods in the north of the country as the storm, downgraded to a tropical depression, headed back out into the Caribbean.

The civil emergency committee (Copec) said more than 23 000 people had fled their homes and helicopters were rescuing some people from rooftops and airlifting food to stricken areas.

Copec head Randolfo Funez said the death toll had increased to 15, from nine on Sunday, and that 13 people were missing.

The storm and floods washed away dozens of bridges, and much of the Islas de la Bahia department was under water, officials said.

About 2 000 homes were destroyed.

Copec helicopters were flying over the zone to find stranded victims on roofs and in trees. United Nations agencies were helping to distribute food.—Sapa-AFP

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