Red Cross to survey damage after hurricane Iris roars ashore in Belize
The Belize Red Cross was out at dawn this morning to assess casualties and damage caused by Hurricane Iris which roared ashore 80 miles south-west of Belize City during the night, packing winds up to 140 miles per hour. Food, water and shelter materials will be distributed to those left homeless but it will take some time to complete the damage assessment. At least ten people are feared missing or dead.
"This was a compact but very strong hurricane which is petering out as it moves inland. Wind speeds were comparable with Hurricane Mitch two years ago but thankfully it has not hit any densely populated areas. It is early to say but we would not be surprised if hundreds of families have been left homelss and we will respond accordingly," said John Humphreys, Head of Regional Delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Early reports indicate that damage has been severe in the small towns of Independence, Placencia and Monkey River. Off-shore holiday resorts were also affected. At least 15,000 people evacuated their homes in advance of the hurricane.

An aerial survey will be conducted later today, and the Belize Red Cross will be strengthened with support from International Federation delegations in Santo Domingo and neighbouring Guatemala. Supplies of plastic sheeting and water purification kits are being sent in from the International Federation's logistics base in Panama.