Hun­dreds dead in Hur­ri­cane Matthew storm dis­as­ter in Haiti

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

The death toll in Haiti as a re­sult of Hur­ri­cane Matthew - the most pow­er­ful Caribbean storm in a decade - has soared to more than 300, of­fi­cials say.

Some 50 peo­ple were re­ported killed in the town of Roche-aBateau alone.

The nearby city of Jeremie saw 80% of its build­ings lev­elled. In Sud prov­ince 30,000 homes were de­stroyed.

The hur­ri­cane, now a Cat­e­gory Three storm with sus­tained winds of 120mph, is head­ing up the coast­line of the US state of Florida.

At 5am lo­cal time Matthew was still off the coast, cen­tred about 40 miles east-south-east of Cape Canaveral and mov­ing north­north-west at about 13mph, the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter said.

Sen­a­tor Herve Four­cand from south­ern Haiti told AFP news agency that more than 300 peo­ple had died. An un­named of­fi­cial quoted by Reuters news agency put the death toll at 339.

Hur­ri­cane Matthew has pounded the Ba­hamas af­ter slic­ing through Haiti and Cuba.

Trees and power lines were re­port­edly down in the Ba­hamas but no fa­tal­i­ties were re­ported.

Most of the deaths in Haiti were in towns and fish­ing vil­lages around the south­ern coast, with many killed by fall­ing trees, fly­ing de­bris and swollen rivers.

The storm passed di­rectly through the Tiburon penin­sula, driv­ing the sea in­land and flat­ten­ing homes with winds of up to 230km/h and tor­ren­tial rain on Monday and Tues­day.

The col­lapse of an im­por­tant bridge on Tues­day had left the south-west largely cut off.

Non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions said phone cov­er­age and elec­tric­ity were down and peo­ple were run­ning out of food and water.

Les Cayes res­i­dent Jean Joseph de­scribed the scene in his town one of the worst-hit - as “com­plete dev­as­ta­tion”.

“What’s go­ing on right now is a lot of peo­ple are walk­ing around,” he said.

“They have no home. A lot of them - they’re just walk­ing around. I don’t know what they’re go­ing to do.”

Across the coun­try, there were

some 350,000 in need of as­sis­tance, ac­cord­ing to the UN Of­fice for the Co-or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs.

A spokesper­son for the Amer­i­can Red Cross, Suzy DeFran­cis, said the first pri­or­ity was to get phone net­works across the coun­try back up and run­ning. “We will bring in tech­nol­ogy to help do that,” she said.

“We also have ware­houses with re­lief sup­plies that we will be dis­tribut­ing. Some of the needs that fam­i­lies may have are kitchen kits so they can cook meals, any kind of hy­giene kits and then we are most wor­ried about cholera, so we will be help­ing to dis­trib­ute aqua tabs to pu­rify the water.”

The Red Cross has launched an emer­gency ap­peal for $6.9m “to pro­vide med­i­cal, shel­ter, water and san­i­ta­tion as­sis­tance to 50,000 peo­ple”. The US is send­ing nine mil­i­tary he­li­copters to help de­liver food and water to the hard­est-hit ar­eas.

The coun­try is one of the world’s poor­est, with many res­i­dents liv­ing in flimsy hous­ing in flood-prone ar­eas. Four peo­ple also died in the storm in the neigh­bour­ing Do­mini­can Repub­lic on Tues­day.

Mean­while in the US, evac­u­a­tion orders have been is­sued for ar­eas cov­er­ing some three mil­lion in­hab­i­tants.

The storm has so far stayed off the coast, less­en­ing the po­ten­tial im­pact to south­ern Florida, and it re­mains un­clear when, where or if, the hur­ri­cane will make landfall.

Nev­er­the­less, rain and high winds lashed the Mi­ami area overnight. Some 270,000 homes and busi­nesses have been left with­out power in Florida al­ready.

Some ar­eas in the state could see rain­fall of up to 15in, but the main threat ap­peared to be from sea­wa­ter surges along the coast right up to South Carolina.

Florida Gov­er­nor Rick Scott said: “Think about this: 11ft of pos­si­ble storm surge. And on top of that, waves. So if you are close, you could have the storm surge and waves over your roof.”

Orlando theme parks Walt Dis­ney World, Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios and SeaWorld are shut.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.