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Image Caption: STS51A-45-0027 Roatan Island, Honduras November 1984
The largest of the Bay Islands, the hilly, reef-fringed island of Roatan can be seen in this north-northeast-looking view. Roatan island is 40 miles (64 km) long and less than 4 miles (6 km) wide. Roatan and the rest of the Bay Islands rests on the Bonacca Ridge about 40 miles (64 km) off the northern coast of Honduras. The ridge was formed as a result of an enormous crack along the Caribbean Sea floor. Lava from the earth's mantle welled up through the crack, forming the Caribbean Plate, which buckled and created Bonacca Ridge and the Bay Islands, including Roatan. Until the fall of 1998, Roatan was a vacation resort area known for its great diving and trophy fishing. In the fall of 1998, Hurricane Mitch, a category five hurricane with winds gusting to over 150 miles per hour (243 km per hour), struck the island. The storm stalled over the island before finally moving on to the northern Honduran mainland. The island was devastated by extremely high winds and high waves. Repairs to the devastated island are presently ongoing, and tourists are returning.