Haiti mourns as families bury loved ones killed by hurricane

October 9, 2016 | By | Reply More

Oct 09, – Mourners beat their fists and screamed, their distress growing more intense as attendants opened the door of the morgue on Saturday to bring out the body of Roberto Laguerre, who was killed next to his 3-year-old daughter when the storm roared through this city in southwest Haiti as a Category 4 storm earlier in the week.

Haiti mourns as families bury loved ones killed by hurricaneAs a pale blue coffin came into view, grieving women flung themselves to the floor near a morgue overlooking the ravaged city of Jeremie, where a humanitarian crisis has emerged in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

“Why did you leave us? Take me with you!” shouted relative Rita Honore.

Roberto and his daughter, Roseberlande, are among more than 500 people killed from the immediate effects of the storm in southwest Haiti. Authorities fear diseases such as cholera could cause more deaths in the area while the destruction of crops and livestock could cause many people to go hungry.

The precise death toll from the storm remained uncertain. Guillaume Silvera, a senior official with the Civil Protection Agency in the Grand-Anse Department, which is on the tip of the southern peninsula and includes the city of Jeremie, said they had confirmed 522 deaths, not including anyone in several remote communities that they have yet to reach because of collapsed roads and bridges.

“We think the numbers will have to go up,” Silvera said.

Civil Protection headquarters in Port-au-Prince, meanwhile, said Saturday their official count for the whole country was 336, which included 191 deaths in Grand-Anse.

UNICEF said that in Grand Anse alone there were 66,000 houses destroyed and 20,000 heavily damaged.

“Information gathered from various sources in the field suggest that the human toll (dead and injured) will be heavier than the current official figures,” the agency said in a report.

Death tolls are frequently difficult to tabulate in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster in any country, though it is particularly difficult in remote and mountainous southwest Haiti.

Government officials estimate that at least 350,000 people need assistance, and concern was growing over an increase in cholera cases following widespread flooding unleashed by Matthew. An ongoing cholera outbreak has already killed roughly 10,000 people and sickened more than 800,000 since 2010, when the infectious disease was introduced into the country’s biggest river from a U.N. base where Nepalese peacekeepers were deployed.

Maria Sofia Sanon, a health worker overseeing the open-air cholera treatment center in a corner of Jeremie’s main hospital, said they were ill-equipped to deal with patients. The area was strewn with broken tree branches, and a group of young mothers sat outside holding up the arms of their glassy-eyed children being rehydrated via IVs.

“They’re not supposed to be in the sun, but we have no more beds,” Sanon said.

Nearby, officials with the Red Cross were unloading blankets, soaps, bleach and other items as aid began to reach remote corners of Haiti’s southwest peninsula.

“It’s beginning to pick up now,” said Stephane Rolland, coordinator for the International Federation of the Red Cross for Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Cuban medical teams were dispatched to coastal villages, and officials began distributing food in storm shelters and in the main plaza of Jeremie, where thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed and many people were running low on food.

Jocelyne Saint Preux was part of the crowd that lined up in an orderly fashion to get food as aid began to arrive, including shipments of food and other emergency supplies from the U.S. Agency for International Development carried by waves of military transport helicopters.

Press journalist for HRO media – Ignacio Damigo reports.

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Category: International

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