It warned that torrential rain brought by Felix could cause rivers to jump their banks.
 
They expect the toll to rise as rescue workers scoured the northeast of the country.
 
Devastation
 
Hondurans were evacuated as rivers
burst their banks in the wake of Felix [EPA]
Felix weakened to a tropical storm as it ploughed through northern Nicaragua on its way towards the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, but was still dangerous.

 

"We expect it to cause rivers to overflow, mudslides and damage to roads, so we are calling on towns to take preventive measures and evacuate the populations in the most risky areas," said Jose Ramon Salinas, a Honduran civil protection officer.

 

The worst-hit was Puerto Cabezas, an impoverished northern city of 40,000 where 90 per cent of infrastructure was wrecked, officials said, calling it as "a disaster of major proportions".

 

Felix provoked fears throughout Central America of a repeat of Hurricane Mitch which killed about 10,000 people across the region in 1998 in floods and mudslides.

 

Nancy Enriquez, mayor of the coastal community of Bilwi, said: "People are out in the open, they have lost everything, children are exposed to the rain."

 

Second strike

 

Felix followed Hurricane Dean, another Category 5 storm - the most powerful type - which struck last month, killing 27 people in the Caribbean and Mexico.

 

As Felix passed over, many towns found
themselves under water [AFP]

Meanwhile Hurricane Henriette, the latest to pound the Americas, gathered strength over the Pacific before making landfall on Mexico's northwest coast.

 

Henriette lashed Mexico's Los Cabos resort on the Baja California peninsula with winds and rain, after killing a foreign tourist on its approach.

   

Despite growing consensus that global warming may spawn stronger tropical cyclones, weather experts believe it is too soon to blame climate change for the back-to-back hurricanes.

 

It was the first time on record that two Atlantic hurricanes made landfall as Category 5 storms in the same season, and the fourth time since records began in 1851 that more than one Category 5 had formed in a year.