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Local advice rejected

President of the Honduran Colegio de Ingenieros - the equivalent of the Institution of Civil Engineers - has attacked the government's handling of the hurricane crisis.

Speaking to CEI, Abner Miralda claimed the government had ignored offers of help and advice from local engineers, put too much reliance on outside assistance and had 'no principal channel for co-ordination'.

'We want to work directly with the government but in this country political alliance is everything, so it is very difficult,' he said.

Miralda also claimed that a report highlighting flood risk from deforestation and badly planned urban developments had been sent to government officials three years ago but was ignored.

'We said before the hurricane that there would be a problem with flooding and that they would have to relocate the shanty towns on the river banks,' he said. 'They did nothing.'

Few records of floods are kept in Honduras. Engineers rely on anecdotal evidence of maximum levels from local people when designing infrastructure and housing close to rivers. Miralda is now calling for a national archive to be set up.

Meanwhile the Colegio is forming voluntary groups of engineers who will give technical advice on reconstructing towns and villages to local authorities.

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