Pale what? The scope of death and destruction of Mitch pales the scope of death and destruction of the tsunami of Indian Ocean?

Central America, as a battlefield of the cold war, has long been accustomed to foreign occupation. But the people of Honduras had never seen anything like the military operations that arrived to bring aid after Hurricane Mitch. Honduras, the region's poorest country, was the hardest hit. The scope of death and destruction pales in comparison to that still unfolding across the Indian Ocean.
"pales in comparison" means, lessens in degree, seems feeble in comparison. It comes from the adjective "pale", which means, light or faint in color.
Hi Jobb

I guess "to pale (X)" is "to become insignificant (in comparison with X)"

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Thank you both.
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Hello Jobb

The phrasing in the item is a little odd. As Paco suggests, it would be more usual to phrase it thus: 'pales into insignificance in/by comparison with that which is still unfolding etc.'

As Casi says, 'to pale' is 'to lose colour'. 'Pales into insignificance' is a common phrase that means 'to go so pale, it vanishes'.

The underlying metaphor in your example is of placing X beside Y, where Y is much darker than X. X then looks much paler than it did before Y appeared.

(For instance, a person with ordinary fair skin will look pale if he stands beside a person with a bright red rosy face.)

Unfortunately, what looks 'pale' here is 'scope'. Can 'scope' go 'pale'? Very difficult to visualise.