Hurricane hits Haiti, leaves 4 dead
Hurricane Tomas has flooded earthquake refugee camps, turning some into squalid islands as it battered Haiti's rural western tip, in the process leaving four dead due to floods, Press TV reported.
Aid workers rushed to guard against the spread of disease as the storm moved into the region where thousands are infected with cholera, the Associated Press reported on Friday.
Driving 136-kilometer-per-hour (85mph) winds and a lashing storm surge battered Leogane, a seaside town west of Port-au-Prince that was 90 percent destroyed in the January 12 earthquake earlier this year. However, vast homeless encampments in the shattered capital were left largely unscathed.
Four deaths were confirmed by Haitian officials, all people attempting to cross rivers by car or on foot in the mountainous region to the west of Leogane, on Haiti's far southwestern tip. Two more people were reported missing in Leogane.
Hurricane Tomas earlier killed at least 14 people in the eastern Caribbean. On Friday it came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane, pummeling Haiti's southern peninsula, before moving on to the rest of the country, eastern Cuba, and the Bahamas.
It could be days before the storm's exact impact is known as reports filter in from isolated mountain towns cut off by the flooding. But as officials took stock and aid workers rushed to contain flood damage and the widening cholera epidemic, the storm left harsh reminders of poverty's toll on the Caribbean nation.
Following the latest deluge, aid workers are extremely concerned the storm will worsen Haiti's cholera epidemic, which has killed over 440 people and hospitalized more than 6,700 others.
"Water is going to bring the bacteria, and people who are moving around can infect other areas," said Haitian President Rene Preval.
Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive says his government is dealing with three simultaneous humanitarian disasters, as the latest destruction left by hurricane Tomas was being analyzed by experts.
"It's not like we had the earthquake, then cholera, and now a hurricane," he said. "We still have the consequences of the earthquake, we are facing the cholera... and now we're dealing with the hurricane, so it's just piling on us, just making bigger and bigger problems.