Death toll from hurricane in Haiti rises to 372 as LatAm aids mobilized

Updated: 2016-10-11 15:48


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MEXICO CITY - The official death toll in Haiti from Hurricane Matthew climbed to 372 on Monday, the Civil Protection Directorate (DPC) said.

A week after the category 4 hurricane whipped through southern Haiti, leaving destruction in its wake, the DPC issued its updated assessment of the damage, saying four people were still missing and 246 others sustained injuries.

Some 175,509 people who were left homeless are being housed in 224 temporary shelters.

Haiti's southernmost departments of Grande Anse and the South were the worst hit, with 198 and 78 fatalities, respectively, the daily Haiti Libre reported, citing the DPC.

Unofficial figures put the death toll at more than 800.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) "is scaling up its emergency response to help more than 350,000 people in need of immediate humanitarian help," especially "more than 8,400 women who are expected to give birth in the next three months," the daily said.

UNFPA's Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said the hurricane had ravaged Haiti's health infrastructure.

"Hurricane Matthew delivered a severe blow to Haiti's health facilities, whether by flooding these centers or blowing off their roofs and putting them out of service," said Osotimehin.

To counter the lack of medical services, Cuba and Venezuela were sending more doctors to the island, Haiti Libre added.

Cuba, which already has some 600 doctors working there, sent an additional team of 38 physicians with experience in handling post-disaster problems.

Officials have been concerned about a resurgence of cholera, which has already killed thousands in Haiti since an outbreak following the devastating 2010 earthquake that leveled much of capital Port-au-Prince.

Venezuela's vice president for social development, Jorge Arreaza, on Monday presided over the shipment of another 20 tons of humanitarian aid, mainly medicine, to the battered island nation, and said an initial brigade of 40 doctors would also be heading to Haiti.

Starting last Wednesday, Venezuela sent in 450 tons of machinery to help clear away rubble from streets and roadways, as well as hundreds of tons of food, water, tents, blankets and other basic needs.

A report on the situation in Grande Anse by Food For The Poor, a non-governmental organization (NGO), found that "towns and villages along the coast are completely devastated," and "animal and plant production has been completely devastated," according to Haiti Libre.

The NGO warned of a "food shortage (that) will last at least six months," and said the government needed to import materials and seeds to get farms up and running again.