Haiti death toll rises

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Friday November 5, 2010 - The death toll in Haiti from Hurricane Tomas has now reached seven, with the worst of the Category 1 hurricane past the island and headed for the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).

Tomas continues its movement away from Haiti tonight, having passed by its northern coast by tonight, but the ordeal is not quite over for the earthquake-hit nation which is also grappling with a cholera outbreak.

The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said hurricane conditions would continue tonight, with more rains that could cause additional flooding, particularly in the south which has been most impacted. The heavy rains have already been responsible for flooding and landslides that claimed at least seven lives – four in the southwest, two in the south, and the other in the southeast.

According to the NHC, as much as 15 inches of rain could fall over Haiti.

President Rene Preval has therefore advised residents to continue to be vigilant.

Hurricane Tomas drenched Haiti throughout the day, forcing residents in coastal areas out of their flooded communities. Hundreds of thousands of people living in tent camps since the January earthquake also waited out the storm hoping their shelters would hold up. But many tents were blown down by Tomas’ fierce winds.

At 8 pm, Tomas was about 50 miles south of Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas and 135 miles east of Guantanamo, Cuba. It had maximum sustained winds near 75 miles per hour, barely holding on to hurricane strength. However, Tomas is expected to gain power within the next day or so, before weakening tomorrow night and into Sunday.

In the TCI, the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies (DDME) told residents to expect tropical storm force winds around midnight, with an increase to hurricane force winds through early tomorrow morning.

The DDME said heavy thunderstorms and rainfall up to six inches are possible, and tornadoes are likely, along with localized flooding and storm surges of three to five feet above normal tide levels.

In a statement issued earlier today, TCI Governor Gordon Wetherell said the Royal Navy ship HMS Manchester and the supply vessel Wave Ruler were making their way to the territory and should arrive off the coast of Providenciales tomorrow morning.  

“HMS Manchester will provide immediate aerial reconnaissance of the islands and stand ready with her crew to provide any further emergency support and assistance that may be required,” he said.

WATCHES AND WARNINGS

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR…

  • HAITI
  • THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS AND THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR…

  • THE CENTRAL BAHAMAS
  • THE CUBAN PROVINCE OF GUANTANAMO

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR…

  • THE NORTHERN COAST OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FROM THE HAITI BORDER, EASTWARD TO PUERTO PLATA

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