Haiti’s storm toll rises to 426

September 23rd, 2008 - 1:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Port-au-Prince, Sep 23 (IANS) The toll in hurricanes and tropical storms that hit Haiti in the recent past has risen to 426, besides causing extensive damage to the economy, officials said, calling upon donor nations to live up to their promised aid, EFE reported Tuesday.Some 800,000 of Haiti’s 8.5 million people have been affected by flooding and mudslides caused by the storms, Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime told reporters Monday.

President Rene Preval said the economic losses the country sustained “is far beyond its capacity to handle” and the nation needed the international community’s assistance to deal with the storms’ aftermath.

“The load is heavy,” Preval said before travelling to New York to attend the opening of the UN General Assembly.

Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis said Haiti, which needed more than $100 million in aid, had only $21 million to deal with the people’s most pressing needs.

Preval said he planned to meet several of his counterparts in an effort to try to obtain aid for Haiti.

Total agricultural loss from the storms has been estimated at more than $180 million, the government said.

The United Nations and the Haitian government called in recent days for $107.7 million in foreign aid, but just two percent of that amount has been received so far, officials said.

“I hope that this two percent is just the beginning,” Preval said.

Three consecutive natural disasters - Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike - have devastated the country in the recent past destroying standing crops, flooding arable lands and snapping communication.

The Western Hemisphere’s poorest country is prone to landslides and flooding because of man-made deforestation, which has reduced the amount of Haiti covered by forest from 25 percent 50 years ago to just two percent today, while the neighbouring Dominican Republic retains a vast forest land.

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