Hurricane Matthew: Death toll rises to 877 and expected to climb further after deadly storm

Tens of thousands of people have been made homeless and crops have been destroyed

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The Independent US

Hundreds of people have been killed in the wake of the strongest storm to hit the Caribbean and the United States in more than a decade.

In Haiti, the death toll due to Hurricane Matthew rose to 877, according to Reuters, with tens of thousands of people now homeless and a swathe of crops and livestock destroyed.

Many more people are missing or unaccounted for.

Officials said the number of deaths could reach the thousands.

The US has sent $400,000 of aid and the UK announced that it would commit at least £5 million to help diaster relief.

The embassy of Haiti in Washington DC confirmed to The Independent that the lower, official death toll number of around 300 people, according to the country's civil protection agency, was very fluid and likely to change as authorities were assessing the damage.

The agency takes longer to report fatalities as it has to visually confirm the victims itself.

In one of the poorest countries in the world, 145mph winds and heavy rain battered the Les Anglais area and then moved north across the peninsula. 

High waves crashed coastal towns, battering concrete houses as well as poorly-built housing of tin and tarp.

The mayor of Les Anglais said people were fleeing for their lives as the sea rushed into their homes.

 

A key bridge collapsed, deadly mudslides surged on rain-soaked ground and all communication lines were down. The number of fatalities is expected to rise once communication is re-established with the hardest hit areas.

The country is still grappling with the after-effects of an earthquake in 2010 and a cholera outbreak the following year, which killed at least 9,000 people and infecting hundreds of thousands.

At least seven people died of cholera after the storm, likely due to flood water mixing with sewage.

Damage did not just happen on the coast. In the hilly farming village of Chantal, 86 people died, according to its mayor, as trees crushed houses, and 20 people were missing.

As floodwater receded, bodies started to emerge.

People who survived but were seriously hurt and had broken bones were left untreated for days.

Some 61,500 people were reported to be living in shelters this week. Deputy special representative for Haiti, Mourad Wahba, said the hospitals were overflowing and there is a shortage of fresh water.

One hospital in Les Cayes had its roof blown off.

A resident from Les Cayes, Dominique Osny, told AFP news agency that he had been on his feet for two days, helping neighbours.

"Everyone is a victim here, houses have been washed away, we lost all the roofing. I lost everything, right up to my birth certificate," he said.

The deputy mayor of Chantal, Marc Soniel Noel, told Reuters: "We have nothing left to survive on. All the crops have gone, all fruit trees are down. I don't have a clue how this is going to be fixed."

At least 90 people were killed in Chantal alone. 

At least four people were killed in the Dominican Republican. No fatalities have yet been confirmed in Cuba.

Dramatic video footage in the Cuban city of Baracoa, however, showed how the storm had flattened buildings.

The category four storm moved north, losing strength before hitting the Floridian coast on Friday morning.

Three people were reported to have died in Florida during the storm, the first storm-related deaths on mainland US to have been reported.

Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, announced that the UK would commit at least £5 million in aid to Haiti, sending in the first supplies of temporary shelters for 5,000 people on Friday.

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