"They couldn't be evacuated because there is no fuel to take them to safe areas," said Carolina Echeverria, a deputy from the town of Cabo Gracias a Dios, on the border with Nicaragua, where Felix struck.

Looming disaster

Marco Burgos, head of civil protection, said: "We are faced with a very serious threat to lives and property.
 
Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale


Category 1 – Winds 119-153kph
Minor coastal flooding and structural damage.

Category 2 – Winds 154-177kph
Damage to roofs, mobile homes and shanty houses. Some trees uprooted. Small boats may break moorings.

Category 3 – Winds 178-209kph
Damage to buildings, mobile homes destroyed. Severe flooding near to coast.

Category 4 – Winds 210-249kph
Major structural damage, roofs destroyed. Storm surge around 5m requiring widespread evacuation of coastal areas.

Category 5 – Winds 249kph or higher
Serious damage to all but strongest buildings. Severe flooding far inland, all trees blown down. Storm surge up to six metres above normal.

"The most important thing is that people pay heed to the call for evacuation so that we don't have to count bodies later."

Manuel Zelaya, the Honduran president said: "There could be serious damage … like human losses, if people do not take precautionary measures."

Hundreds of tourists were flown to the Honduran mainland from beach and diving resorts on the Bay islands.

Police have also reported long lines at supermarkets and gas stations in coastal cities as residents stocked up on food, water and fuel.

A storm surge of up to 5.5m is expected.

Emergency workers have sailed thousands of Miskito Indians out of sparsely populated, coastal areas near the border.

 
The Miskitos formed a British protectorate until the 19th century, and about 35,000 live in Honduras, and over 100,000 in Nicaragua.
 
Tourists airlifted

Aircraft have been shuttling hundreds of tourists from the island resorts of Honduras and Belize in a desperate airlift.

Grupo Taca Airlines provided special free flights to the mainland, touching down and then taking off again as swiftly as possible to pick up more tourists.
Residents stock up on supplies
as Felix nears [AFP]
About 1,000 people were evacuated from the Honduran island of Roatan, popular for its pristine reefs and diving resorts.

Category 5 hurricanes can cause huge damage and are considered rare.
 
There were four of them in the 2005 Atlantic season, including Hurricane Katrina, and more of the potent storms this year could boost claims that global warming is producing stronger tropical cyclones.

Meanwhile, tropical storm Henriette that is headed towards Mexico, has formed into a hurricane with winds of 120kph, the US National Hurricane Centre reported.

Henriette is now a category one hurricane, the lowest on a five-level scale, and is set to approach the southern Baja peninsula in Mexico.

The storm had killed six people last week in the resort city of Acapulco. 

Mexico was hit by Hurricane Dean last month, which had killed 12 people, after killing 17 people across the Carribean islands.