News ID: 170016
Published: 0632 GMT October 08, 2016

Hurricane Matthew death toll nears 900 in Haiti, cholera takes lives

Hurricane Matthew death toll nears 900 in Haiti, cholera takes lives

Hurricane Matthew's trail of destruction in Haiti stunned those emerging from the aftermath on Friday, with the number of dead soaring to 877, tens of thousands left homeless and outbreaks of cholera already claiming more lives.

The hurricane plowed northward on Saturday just off the southeast US coast, where it caused major flooding and widespread power outages.

Information trickled in from remote areas that were cut off by the storm and it became clear that at least 175 people died in villages clustered among the hills and on the coast of Haiti's fertile western tip, Reuters reported.

Rural clinics overflowed with patients whose wounds including broken bones had not been treated since the storm hit on Tuesday. Food was scarce and at least seven people died of cholera, likely because of flood water mixing with sewage.

The storm razed homes to their foundations. The corrugated metal roofs of those still standing were ripped off, the contents visible from above as if peering into doll's houses.

At least three towns reported dozens of fatalities, including the hilly farming village of Chantal, whose mayor said 86 people were killed, mostly when trees crushed houses. He said 20 more people were missing.

The death toll continued to rise on Friday in southwest Haiti. Dozens more were missing, many of them in the Grand'Anse region on the northern side of the peninsula.

"We flew over parts of the Grand'Anse region. It's a humanitarian catastrophe," said Frenel Kedner, a government official in the town of Jeremie in southwest Haiti. "The people urgently need food, water, medicine."


Cholera cases rise


In the town of Anse-d'Hainault, seven people died of cholera, a disease that did not exist in Haiti until UN peace keepers introduced it after a 2010 earthquake that killed some 200,000 people.

Another 17 cholera cases were reported in Chardonnieres on the south coast.

"Due to massive flooding and its impact on water and sanitation infrastructure, cholera cases are expected to surge after Hurricane Matthew and through the normal rainy season until the start of 2017," the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said in a statement.

With fatalities mounting, various government agencies and committees differed on total deaths. A Reuters count of deaths reported by civil protection and local officials put the toll at 877.

Les Anglais was the first place in Haiti that Matthew reached, as a powerful Category 4 storm before it moved north, lost strength and lashed central Florida on Friday.

Hurricane strikes US


In the US, almost 1.4 million homes and businesses were without power on Saturday morning as Matthew crashed north along the Atlantic coast of Florida to Georgia and South Carolina, electric companies said.

Matthew, the first major hurricane to hit the United States in more than 10 years, lashed Florida, Georgia and South Carolina with heavy rain and wind.

There were at least four storm-related deaths in Florida but no immediate reports of significant damage in cities and towns where Matthew swamped streets and toppled trees.

In Florida, two people were killed by falling trees and an elderly couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator while sheltering from the storm inside a garage.

Hurricane and flash flood warnings extended through Georgia and South Carolina and into North Carolina early on Saturday.

Forecasters warned of flooding as 40 cm (15 inches) of rain were expected to fall in parts of the region along with massive storm surges and high tides.

Several major roadways were inundated in Charleston, South Carolina, local media reported.

Though gradually weakening, Matthew— which triggered mass evacuations along the US coast – was forecast to remain a hurricane until it begins moving away from the US Southeast on Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).




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