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By Gustavo Palencia

TEGUCIGALPA, Weds. Dec 15, 2020 (Reuters) – Hurricanes Eta and Iota have caused about $10 billion in damages in Honduras and affected more than 4 million people, the Central American country’s foreign minister said on Monday as he called for international support.

The storms hit within two weeks of each other last month, bringing disastrous flooding to much of Central America and hitting Honduras particularly hard.

“It seems that many of you do not know the magnitude of the disaster that occurred recently in Honduras … some $10 billion in economic losses,” Honduras Foreign Minister Lisandro Rosales told an online meeting with counterparts from the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We reiterate our call for allies and the international community to accompany Honduras in this process of sustainable national construction,” Rosales added.

A new U.S. administration is due to start under President-elect Joe Biden, who has promised more aid for the region in the wake of cuts under his predecessor Donald Trump.

It was not clear how Rosales calculated the damages, which add up to slightly under half of Honduras’ gross domestic product. Neighboring Nicaragua, which also suffered from the hurricanes, reported losses of $743 million.

In Honduras, the storms destroyed more than 1,400 homes, several dozen bridges and some 3 million hectares of crops, Rosales said.

The flooding has pushed thousands of people in the northern city of San Pedro Sula from their homes, forcing them to live in flimsy sheds and prompting some to consider migrating to the United States.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez has called the back-to-back storms the worst disaster to ever hit Honduras. They were not as deadly as Hurricane Mitch, which in 1998 killed some 10,000 people in Central America, including a particularly high death toll in Honduras.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Tom Hogue and Sonya Hepinstall)

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