The Reporter

The damages caused by Hurricane Keith have been pegged at close to
US$200
million by the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO).
Hardest
hit was the tourist industry in San Pedro and Caye Caulker, where damage
has been estimated at US $100 million. Winds flattened homes, hotels and
restaurants, overturned aircraft, and the storm surge damaged or beached
many tour and fishing boats and washed away jetties. The accompanying
rains
have also caused serious flooding along the Belize River in the Belize
and
Cayo districts, the New River and the Rio Hondo in the Orange Walk
district, with damage to homes and crops.

Assistance is already pouring in. Prime Minister Musa is in
communications
to negotiate relief and assistance; and an emergency reconstruction
finance
facility is being negotiated by Belize's governor for the Inter American
Development Bank, Ralph Fonseca in meetings with IDB country chief
Richard
Archie. Minister Fonseca has also been invited to Washington by IDB
President Enrique Iglesias to work out how best to approach the
international donor and financial community.

The Belize Red Cross has already received a $100,000 from the IDB to
help
alleviate the situation in which many Belizeans find themselves in the
wake
of Keith. IDB local representative Hugo Souza presented the donation to
Mrs. Audrey Courtenay of the Belize Red Cross, who thanked the IDB.

The Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has cancelled its annual
reception commemorating the ROC National Day, to divert the monies from
the
reception to Belize's hurricane relief. The embassy states in a release
that the decision was in solidarity with the hurricane victims during
this
national emergency.

Victims on the islands of Caye Caulker and San Pedro are also presently
being assisted by No. 7 company of the Coldstream Guards and the crews
of
the destroyer HMS Cardiff and her support vessel Royal Fleet Auxiliary
"Black Rover", as well as helicopter support from BATSUB 25 Flight.

Local agencies such as the Protected Areas Conservation Trust have also
contributed $50,000 to the Red Cross' relief efforts in the areas of
Caye
Caulker, Ambergris Caye and Orange Walk. A Hurricane Food and Clothing
drive has been started by the University of Belize with particular
emphasis
on items for children such as pampers, powdered milk, baby food and
clothing, as the hurricane has left over a thousand children in need.
The
university is also reaching out assistance to its students from areas
which
were severely affected by Keith.

NEMO has assessed damage to Belize's agricultural sector at US$45
million,
of which US$35 million is for export crops and $10 million for domestic
consumption. Damage to the nation's infrastructure of roads, streets,
drains, and utilities is estimated at some US$55 million.

The acting supervisor of Insurance Alma Gomez and Minister Fonseca have
called on the insurance companies to settle all claims as speedily as
possible. Insurers operating in Belize have assured the supervisor that
loss adjusters will hasten damage assessments for the prompt processing
and
settlement of valid, justifiable insurance claims.
***
Freak accident leaves three people dead and over two dozen injured

Three people, including an 11-month-old baby boy, died when a Venus bus
overturned on the Northern Highway around 8:30 Wednesday morning.

Police estimate that as many as sixty-four people were on the bus, en
route to Orange Walk and Belize City when it hit a culvert as it
approached
a curve near Orange Walk Town.
Both the front and rear axles of the bus were torn loose on impact, and
the
bus plunged upside down into water five feet deep in a nearby creek.

Carmita Yascal, 30, a resident of Santa Clara Village in the Corozal
District, died instantly of a broken neck, while her 11-month-old son
G-Mar
Yascal died on arrival at the Orange Walk Hospital from severe brain
trauma
due to multiple skull fracture.

Anastacio Mai, 74, of San Jose/San Pablo Village in the Orange Walk
District, died during surgery from severe loss of blood and a fractured
left hip.

The bus had left Chetumal around 6 a.m. and made brief stops in Corozal
Town and along the highway to pick up more passengers.

Eyewitnesses' accounts of the accident reveal that the driver of the
bus,
29-year-old Geovanni Castañeda of Santa Clara Village in the Corozal
District, was not watching the road and was caught off-guard when he hit
the culvert.

An intense search and rescue effort was immediately launched by other
commuters who were travelling on the road. The search targeted primarily
the nearby creek where the bus was under water, and was only called off
when everyone was accounted for after hours of searching.

Police say that as many as 36 people were admitted to the hospital for
injuries, with six suffering from severe injuries. Among the six
critically
injured were Mai and baby Yascal.
The bus driver, Castañeda, suffered a broken foot. He was arrested and
charged with three counts of manslaughter by negligence, driving without
due care and attention and sixteen counts of negligent harm and grievous
harm.