Tuesday, September 21, 2004
More than 600 people have died in Haiti after floodwaters raged through the island in the wake of tropical storm Jeanne.
Two days of steady rain washed away entire houses - sometimes reaching up to the third floor. Emergency relief operations have just begun but access is difficult and limited. Observers indicated the casualties were high because of widespread deforestation in the impoverished island.
In Gonaives - the biggest city in the area - an estimated 80% out of a population of more than 200,000 has been affected, UN's World Food Programme said in a statement. At least 56 people have died in the town of Port-de-Paix, 18 in Chansolme, 14 in Gros-Morne, nine in Pilate and eight in Ennery. People were left huddled on rooftops, while roads around the city of Gonaives were transformed into rivers.
Haiti's interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue called for international help, describing the flooded area as "a vast sea". He declared three days of national mourning. UN peacekeepers are helping the relief effort, as are international aid agencies. The UN World Food Programme says it has sent its first convoy of 12 trucks carrying 40 metric tons of emergency food aid to the city of Gonaives.
In May, a storm killed about 3,000 people on the country's border with the Dominican Republic