Mitch: After the Deluge

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Honduras's hard rain killed almost 7,000 people and left 11,000 missing. (View the photo essay.) Horrified survivors recall seeing herds of oxen fleeing before 20-foot waves of mud before being swept up themselves; others told of those unfortunate enough to have been joined in their treetops by poisonous snakes escaping the flood. And even though the skies have cleared, the death toll is set to skyrocket. Aid agencies fear that emergency assistance from the U.S. and other countries will reach those in need too late to save thousands more from death by hunger and disease. Most of Honduras's ground transportation routes are impassable, leaving air drops as the only means of distributing aid to thousands of beleaguered towns and villages, many of which have been cut off for more than a week.

And once the floodwaters subside and the bodies are buried in mass graves, the country will have to confront unprecedented devastation. It has lost 60 percent of its infrastructure and 1.4 million of its citizens are homeless. Much of the country's banana, melon, pineapple and citrus crops have been destroyed, along with tens of thousands of cattle. Even the impoverished nation's financial records have been obliterated in a mainframe computer destroyed by flooding at the finance ministry. Back in the day, destruction on this scale was considered Biblical material.