Hurricane Matthew’s trail of destruction in Haiti stunned those emerging from the aftermath on Friday, with the number of dead soaring to 877, tens of thousands left homeless and outbreaks of cholera already claiming more lives.
Information trickled in from remote areas that were cut off by the storm and it became clear that at least 175 people died in villages clustered among the hills and on the coast of Haiti’s fertile western tip.
Rural clinics overflowed with patients whose wounds including broken bones had not been treated since the storm hit on Tuesday. Food was scarce and at least seven people died of cholera, likely because of flood water mixing with sewage.
The storm razed homes to their foundations. The corrugated metal roofs of those still standing were ripped off, the contents visible from above as if peering into doll’s houses.
At least three towns reported dozens of fatalities, including the hilly farming village of Chantal, whose mayor said 86 people were killed, mostly when trees crushed houses. He said 20 more people were missing.
“A tree fell on the house and flattened it, the entire house fell on us. I couldn’t get out,” said driver Jean-Pierre Jean-Donald, 27, who had been married for a year.
“People came to lift the rubble, and then we saw my wife who had died in the same spot,” said Jean-Donald, his young daughter by his side, crying “Mommy.”
The death toll continued to rise on Friday in southwest Haiti. Dozens more were missing, many of them in the Grand’Anse region on the northern side of the peninsula.
“We flew over parts of the Grand’Anse region. It’s a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Frenel Kedner, a government official in the town of Jeremie in southwest Haiti. “The people urgently need food, water, medicine.” (Reuters)