Haiti death toll from Hurricane Ike climbs to 64

September 9th, 2008 - 12:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Port-au-Prince, Sep 9 (IANS) Additional flooding caused by Hurricane Ike has killed at least 64 people in Haiti, with 60 deaths reported from the city of Cabaret alone, near the capital Port-au-Prince, EFE news agency reported Tuesday, quoting an official.Lawmaker Valcine Pierre-Jerome, who represents Cabaret in parliament, said the fatalities in the city included 14 children as well as several pregnant women.

“The situation is really catastrophic,” he said.

However, the information provided by Pierre-Jerome was not confirmed by the Civil Protection office, which Monday suspended the release of bulletins on the storm’s toll.

Hurricane Ike also left three people dead in the northern part of the country and one in the west, according to reports.

More than 300 people were killed in Haiti in less than two weeks as a result of rains and flooding associated with Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna.

Between 750,000 and one million people have suffered losses in the storms and some 70,000 remain in shelters, Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime said.

The western hemisphere’s poorest country is prone to devastating landslides and flooding because of man-made deforestation, which has reduced the forest cover in Haiti from 25 percent 50 years ago to just two percent today, while the neighbouring Dominican Republic retains a lush tree canopy.

Economy Minister Daniel Dorsainvil said the storms were a “great shock” to the economy and total economic losses would likely be in the “tens of millions of dollars”.

Officials said late Sunday that the death toll from Tropical Storm Hanna had risen to 172, with official figures showing at least 300 dead in the wake of the storms.

The police chief of the northern coastal city of Gonaives, the capital of Artibonite province, Ernst Dorfeuille, said Sunday that 510 people may have died or disappeared in his city, but he admitted that he could not provide an official figure on deaths.

The central province of Artibonite is practically underwater with floodwaters in some areas rising to 2.5 metres less than a week after Hanna pounded the city, Dorfeuille said.

Four years ago, the same area bore the brunt of tropical storm Jeanne, which left 3,000 people dead or missing in Haiti.

The heavy rains battered the northern cities of Cap Haitien, Port-de-Paix and Fort Liberte and the water flowed to Gonaives, which is at a lower elevation.

On Sunday, President Rene Preval met representatives of international organisations to discuss the situation in Haiti and aid requirements.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme and Unicef have announced to have sent 60,000 liters of packaged drinking water and 7.5 tonnes of food by ship to Gonaives.

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