has killed at least 261 people in Haiti, including dozens in one
coastal town that authorities and rescue workers were only beginning to
reach days after the storm, officials said on Thursday.
Interior Ministry, a mayor and other local officials confirmed the
numbers across Haiti to Reuters, with many victims killed by falling
trees, flying debris and swollen rivers when Matthew hit with 145 mph
(230 kph) winds on Tuesday.
Haiti’s civil protection service has so far put the toll in the impoverished Caribbean nation at 108 dead.
of the fatalities were in towns and fishing villages around the western
end of Tiburon peninsula in the country’s southwest, one of Haiti’s
most picturesque regions. The storm passed directly through the
peninsula, driving the sea inland and flattening homes on Monday and
died in the coastal town of Les Anglais in Sud Department, said Louis
Paul Raphael, the central government’s representative in the region.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Raphael.
Anglais was the first to be hit by Matthew and has been out of contact
since then. Just before the storm hit, the mayor told Reuters people
were fleeing their houses in panic as the sea surged into town.
A few miles south in Port-a-Piment
village Mayor Jean-Raymond Pierre-Louis said 25 people died. Further
south still, in the village of Roche-a-Bateau, 24 died.
In Grand Anse Department, also on the storm’s destructive path but on the other side of the peninsula, 38 more lost their lives.
Along with the human devastation, the storm killed livestock.
one public hospital in Les Cayes, a port town on the Tiburon peninsula,
most doctors had not shown up to work since they took shelter as the
storm hit. Food and water was scarce in shelters.
The devastation in Haiti prompted authorities to postpone a presidential election scheduled for Sunday.
weak government and precarious living conditions for many of its
citizens make Haiti particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. In
2010, a magnitude 7 earthquake wrecked the capital Port-au-Prince,
killing upwards of 200,000 people.
the earthquake’s wake, U.N. peace keepers inadvertently introduced
cholera to the country, killing at least 9,000 and infecting hundreds of
The Pan American Health Organization
said on Thursday it was preparing for a possible cholera surge in Haiti
after the hurricane because the flooding was likely to contaminate
Cayes’ tiny airport, windows were blown out and the terminal roof was
mostly missing although the landing strip was not heavily damaged.
runway is working. In the hours and days to come we can receive
humanitarian flights,” said Sergot Tilis, the information officer and
runway agent for the airport.
is the strongest hurricane in the Caribbean since Felix in 2007 and was
moving toward Florida as a Category 4 cyclone, the second strongest on
the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. Four people were killed over
the weekend in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of
Hispaniola with Haiti.