Storm kills 38 and postpones inquest

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, October 31, 2007 – Tropical Storm Noel has killed more than three dozen people and caused the postponement of an inquest into the death of Anna Nicole Smith’s son, Daniel Wayne, in The Bahamas.

The unimpressive-looking cyclone, in satellite imagery, dumped heavy rain triggering floods in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba, emergency officials report.

Haiti and the Dominican Republic were particularly hard hit because they were already experiencing severe flooding in late October prior to the cyclone forming.

At least 30 people are dead and 15 missing in the Dominican Republic, while four people – including a 14-year old girl and her mother – were killed in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince when an uprooted tree crushed their house. Another four were killed outside of the capital.

Marie Alta Jean Baptiste, director of Haiti’s disaster emergency services, said floods and wind destroyed homes in three departments.

Haitian Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis has announced US$1.5m in emergency aid to assist storm victims.

In the Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez announced US$3m in relief for victims.

The storm moved inland of Cuba on Tuesday evening where 2,000 people were evacuated.

Red Cross action

The International Federation of the Red Cross said it has allocated over US$128,000 to the emergency relief in Haiti as a result of the floods and then Tropical Storm Noel. It is providing assistance for more than 3,800 displaced people including more than 150 families.

Emergency supplies and relief aid were flown in by its Pan American Disaster Relief Unit (PADRU) which is based in Panama.

Inquest postponed

The next stop for Noel is The Bahamas where the coroner’s court has postponed a hearing into the death of Daniel Wayne Smith – the son of the late American actress, Anna Nicole Smith.

The hearing was due to start Tuesday but has now been rescheduled for November 19 November due to expected emergency closures and preparation for Tropical Storm Noel.

More than 35 witnesses are scheduled to give evidence, including Anna Nicole Smith’s former companion and lawyer Howard K Stern.

Storm coordinates

On Tuesday night the centre of Tropical Storm Noel was located over central Cuba drifting towards the west-northwest near 4mph and forecasters at the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, said it was likely to turn towards the northwest by Wednesday on a course for the central to northern Bahamas.

Maximum sustained winds were near 40mph with higher gusts.

Tropical storm force winds extend up to 175 miles, mainly northeast from the centre and estimated central pressure is 1001mb.