Tropical Storm Leaves 50 Dead in Haiti
Associated Press Writer
GONAIVES, Haiti (AP) — Tropical Storm Jeanne brought raging floodwaters to Haiti, killing at least 50 people in the battered nation and leaving dozens of Haitian families huddled on rooftops as the storm pushed off into the open seas on Sunday.
Floods tore through the northwestern coastal town of Gonaives and surrounding areas Saturday night, covering crops but not fully engulfing homes. U.S.-backed interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue and his interior minister toured the area in a U.N. truck, but were not able to reach many areas because of flooded roads.
“We don’t know how many dead there are,” Latortue said. “2004 has been a terrible year.”
At least 50 people were confirmed dead, said Brazilian Cmdr. Carlos Chagas, assistant to the U.N. force commander overseeing Haiti’s peacekeeping and other missions.
Several others were reported missing and feared dead. Unlike the Dominican Republic, much of Haiti is deforested and unable to hold back flood waters.
Latortue declared Gonaives a disaster area and called on the international community to provide immediate humanitarian aid.
The erratic storm has been blamed for at least 60 deaths. Seven died in neighboring Dominican Republic and a third death was reported in Puerto Rico on Sunday when authorities found a man’s body floating in a river near the northwestern town of Moca.
Jeanne headed into open seas Sunday and didn’t appear likely to hit the storm-battered southeastern United States. It was expected to turn south over the next two days and head back out into the Atlantic, away from U.S. states that have been battered by three major storms already this season.
At 5 p.m. EDT, Jeanne was 145 miles east-southeast of the Bahamian island of San Salvador, moving northward near 8 mph. Storm-force winds strengthened to 50 mph and stretched up to 85 miles from its center.