90 killed as storm lashes Haiti

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The Independent US

At least 90 people were killed as tropical Storm Jeanne brought raging floodwaters to Haiti.

At least 90 people were killed as tropical Storm Jeanne brought raging floodwaters to Haiti.

Floods tore through the northwestern coastal town of Gonaives and surrounding areas, covering crops and turning roads into rivers. The interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said: "We don't know how many dead there are."

Catholic humanitarian agency Caritas Internationalis said its workers picked up 62 bodies in pickup trucks and counted another 18 at a morgue in Gonaives alone,. The Rev. Venel Suffrard, the Vatican-based organisation's director in the town, said he expected the toll to rise.

The floods killed another 10 people in other parts of the country, mostly in the northwest, said Dieufort Deslorges, a spokesman for the Haitian Ministry of Interior.

A World Health Organization worker said he had toured parts of downtown Gonaives and saw people pushing wooden carts filled with bodies.

The deaths came four months after floods killed more than 3,000 people on the Haitian-Dominican border. In February, a three-week rebellion ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and left about 300 dead.

Several people were reported missing and feared dead. Unlike the Dominican Republic, much of Haiti is deforested and unable to hold back floodwaters.

Residents said the floods caught the town by surprise Saturday night. Jean-Baptiste Agilus, a 46-year-old teacher, said he watched the deluge engulf houses in his neighborhood, filling some with 13 feet of water.

Agilus said he saw his neighbor running from his house, saying his wife and two children, ages 12 and 15, were swept away in the rising waters.

"The water rushed into their home, all the homes in the neighborhood," he said. "It destroyed everything." Agilus said he would stay at a friend's house and heard others say they would sleep on the street.

Many families, though, remained on their flat concrete rooftops surrounded by bundles of belongings, mostly clothing.

Argentinean troops, part of a UN mission and responsible for patrolling Gonaives, treated at least 150 injuries, mostly bad cuts on feet and legs that required stitches, said Lt. Cmdr. Emilio Vera, a spokesman. Many people had stepped on shards of glass or pieces of metal left underwater by the force of the flood waters, he said.

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