Matthew kills at least 123 in Haiti


October 07, 2016
Victor Farah and her daughter sit in the ruins of their home destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, Thursday,

Haitian officials yesterday dramatically raised the known death toll from Hurricane Matthew as they finally began to reach corners of the country that had been cut off by the rampaging storm.

Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph announced that at least 283 had died, up from a previous count of 23.

Officials were especially concerned about the department of Grand-Anse, located on the northern tip of the peninsula that was slammed by the Category 4 storm which severed roads and communications links.

"(It) got hit extremely hard," said Guillaume Albert Moleon, Interior Ministry spokesman.

Officials with the Civil Protection Agency said 38 of the known deaths were reported in Grand-Anse.

People in the region's devastated main city, Jeremie, faced an immediate hunger crisis, said Maarten Boute, chairman of telecoms company Digicel Haiti, who flew to the city in a helicopter.

Matthew mashed concrete walls and tore away rooftops, forcing thousands of Haitians to flee for their lives.

In the southwest seaport of Les Cayes, many were searching for clean water on Thursday as they lugged mattresses and other scant belongings they were able to salvage.

"Nothing is going well," Jardine Laguerre, a teacher, told The Associated Press. "The water took what little money we had. We are hungry."

Authorities and aid workers were just beginning to get a clear picture of what they fear is the country's biggest disaster in years.

Joseph, the interior minister, said food and water were urgently needed, noting that crops have been leveled, wells inundated by seawater and some water treatment facilities destroyed.

Before hitting Haiti, the storm was blamed for four deaths in the Dominican Republic, one in Colombia and one in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

So far, there have been no reports of casualties from better-equipped Cuba or The Bahamas, which was being raked by the hurricane on Thursday.