Nicaragua

Air bridge rushes aid to Felix-ravaged Nicaraguan coast

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NAMPA, Ida., Sept. 9 -- MAF is rushing assistance to the 50,000 people directly affected by Hurricane Felix on the Caribbean cost of Nicaragua.

The hurricane already has caused 100 deaths, while nearly 10,000 homes have been destroyed and another 9,000 partially destroyed, according to latest reports. Another 120 people are missing. An estimated 50,000 people have lost everything they own. More than 1,200 acres of corn have been lost in the municipalities of Wiwili and San Jose de Bocay.

Displaced people from 52 locations near the coast are staying in 101 shelters.

Aerial reports indicate damages greater than first believed, said John Woodberry, MAF's disaster response manager.

Representatives from the Moravian Church and the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD) report the need for water, food, black plastic, flashlights, candles and matches.

The Clinic of the Moravian Church has run out of medicines and needs support, Woodberry said.

Relief supplies are backing up in the capital city of Managua and cannot get to the needed areas on the coast because of damaged dirt roads.

MAF, in partnership with Operation Blessing and CEPAD, is working to meet the urgent need, Woodberry said.

Along with Mission Flights International, based in Florida, a turbine-powered DC-3 arrived in Nicaragua Saturday with a load of water-treatment supplies and plastic sheeting from Samaritan's Purse. The DC-3 carried 6,500 pounds of rice, beans, black plastic and cornmeal on its first flight Sunday and continues to make repeated relief trips between Managua and affected coastal areas.

MAF has flown down a Cessna T206 from Mexico to support the relief operation in more remote areas.

The "air bridge" to bring in supplies from Managua began Sunday.

Managua's churches took up a special offering to send through CEPAD to the Moravian and other churches. The Nicaraguan people already have helped through donations of cash, blankets, clothing, canned goods and water, Woodberry said.