Felix casualties struggle to safety in small boats

Publicado: 6 septiembre 2007 0:00 CET

The hard pressed Puerto Cabezas Branch of the Nicaraguan Red Cross (NRC) is being called at to receive hurricane Felix casualties arriving on the town's beaches in small boats after coastal journeys lasting several hours.

"We are very worried because there are at least 15 remote communities we haven't heared from since Felix struck," according to Francisco Osejo of the NRC.

"They're dependent on radio for communications," he added. "And the mast got blown over in the hurricane."

The Puerto Cabezas Branch is also trying to confirm reports of bodies seen floating in the sea.

There are fears that casualty figures will rise once news comes in from the isolated - overwhelmingly indigenous - communities.

"The authorities are trying to clear the roads of fallen trees," said Osejo.

"But they're blocked in virtually every direction."

Puerto Cabezas was still blacked out Wednesday night but some houses and shops have their own generators and people were trying to return to some kind of normality.

Evidence of the force of the wind that Felix threw at this small coastal port is everywhere. Powerlines are down and many houses have lost their roofs.

The huge ceiba trees in the central park have been blown over and their roots bared to the sky.

To anyone flying in on Wednesday after the small airport reopened, it was clear that the jungle for miles around has been flattened by Felix's Category-5 wind.

Osejo said the Red Cross' provisional conclusion was that evacuation measures were broadly successful, although there was still a problem with some people leaving it to the last minute.

Puerto Cabezas is one of the locations of a special project backed by the Netherlands Red Cross to bolster disaster preparedness in the face of increased risk of climate-change impacts.