Deadly hurricane causes severe destruction in Haiti: OCHA

GENEVA — The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned Friday that the passage of Hurricane Matthew has resulted in severe damage in southern parts of Haiti, especially in the departments of Grande Anse and South.

“The government of Haiti estimates that at least 350,000 are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. It is expected that number may rise as more assessments are carried out,” OCHA said in a statement.

“The authorities report that more than 1,800 homes have been flooded, hundreds more damaged or destroyed, and more than 15,600 people have been evacuated in Haiti,” it added.

Matthew, the strongest hurricane in recent years, has flooded towns, downed power lines and cut people off as it swept through the small Caribbean nation with wind speeds reaching up to 230 km/h.

Haiti is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and has suffered greatly in recent years. It is frequently battered by hurricanes, with Hurricane Jeanne killing at least 3,000 people in 2004.

In 2010, the country was devastated by a powerful magnitude 7 earthquake.

Though the death toll is likely to rise, initial media reports are suggesting that some 300 people have lost their lives in the latest natural disaster to have struck the country.

In neighboring the Dominican Republic, OCHA reported that 38,000 people were evacuated to shelters, and that more than 1 million Cubans were also compelled to take refuge.

The tropical cyclone has since migrated north, moving along the southeastern US coast. PNA/