Hurricanes and floods leave hundreds dead

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The Independent US

Millions of people across the world are bracing themselves for further battles with the elements after a series of extreme storms, hurricanes and floods left disaster in their wake yesterday.

In one of the worst hurricane seasons in living memory, Haiti faces the threat of yet more extreme weather as Hurricane Ike hurtles towards it with winds already blasting at above 120mph. Haitians continued to battle with the aftermath of tropical storm Hanna. As flood waters drained away yesterday, the true death toll suffered by the Caribbean nation was revealed. In the port city of Gonaives alone, the bodies of 495 storm victims were found, bringing the official count of the dead to 529. An estimated 600,000 people are still unreachable and without food.

All along the US Atlantic coast storm warnings were issued as people faced downpours from Hanna and prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Ike.

Tourists fled the Barbadian islands of Turks and Caicos yesterday, as Ike rumbled towards them. If the storm continues on its current trajectory, those left on the islands are likely to face the full blast this morning.

As forecasters predicted, Ike has grown from to category 3 to 4, in advance of its landfall on US shores some time tomorrow morning. Based on its current trajectory, it is likely to hit eastern Cuba before arriving in Florida.

Meanwhile floodwaters receded in eastern India, where up to 15,000 people are said to have returned to their homes, despite fresh warnings that more heavy rain is expected. The numbers displaced by the floods – which were caused by a collapsed flood wall in Nepal three weeks ago – have now reached 900,000.

In one village in the state of Bihar around 100,000 people are still believed to be marooned on islands created by the flooded river. Many were refusing to leave their homes, despite warnings that worse could be on the way as the monsoon season is not yet over.

The UK also experienced its own extreme weather, with downpours causing flash floods in the north of England. More than 100 flood warnings were issued by the Environment Agency yesterday, as torrential rain and gales swept the country.

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