Hurricane Ike kills four in Cuba after devastating Haiti (Lead)

September 9th, 2008 - 2:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Havana/Port-au-Prince, Sep 9 (IANS) After killing 64 people and leaving a trail of devastation in Haiti, Hurricane Ike battered Cuba Tuesday, forcing a state of emergency and leaving at least four dead in the northern Caribbean island nation, EFE news agency reported.At least four people were killed in accidents following the severe landfall caused by Ike, which continues to lash the entire island with sustained winds of 130 km per hour, the Cuban television reported Monday night.

Nearly one-tenth of the population have been evacuated to safer buildings in the coastal regions, the report said.

It also said that rescue officials were bracing for higher death tolls as rain continued across the Caribbean.

Meanwhile the death toll from the hurricane has climbed to 64 in Haiti, with 60 deaths reported from the city of Cabaret alone, near the capital Port-au-Prince.

The fatalities in the city included 14 children as well as several pregnant women, said lawmaker Valcine Pierre-Jerome, who represents Cabaret in parliament.

“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 Haiti 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.

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

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 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.

Meanwhile, at least four people have been killed and thousands suffered property damage in the torrential rains that have been inundating Guatemala for the past several days.

Two children and an 80-year-old man were killed Monday when a landslide buried them in an Indian community in the northwestern province of Quiche, but four other children were rescued in that same incident, EFE reported, citing emergency aid authorities.

During this year’s rainy season in Guatemala so far, more than 65 people have been killed and millions of dollars in losses to agriculture and to the country’s infrastructure have been registered.

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