Bay Islands hammered by Mitch

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NEW YORK -- The Bay Islands of Guanaja, Roatan and Utila off Honduras suffered major damage as a result of Hurricane Mitch, which, by Sunday afternoon, was a mere tropical depression, with 30 mph winds, on the Mexico-Guatemala border.

On Roatan, resort damage was severe. According to an eyewitness, there was extensive damage at Mangrove Bight, and civilian casualties were reported at Punta Gorda, the worst hit on the northeast coast. The eyewitness said that experiencing the storm was "like living with a frieght train running outside your window."

On Utila, there were high winds, high rain, and coastal property damage. No casualties were reported, and tourists had been moved to an inland shelter.

Guanaja, the first and worst hit of the islands, was all but flattened by Hurricane Mitch, with extensive property damage and 14 deaths reported.

Countering most media reports, a hot line operated by Roatan Charter, a San Antonio, Fla.-based operator of dive tours to Honduras, told callers Friday morning that there were no casualties on the islands and that news reports are exaggerating the damage.

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