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Aid Rushed To Haiti As Storm Death Toll Mounts

UN agencies rush aid to Haiti as tropical storm death toll mounts

Hundreds of people are feared dead in Haiti after tropical storm Jeanne lashed the impoverished Caribbean country at the weekend, United Nations agencies said as they launched emergency relief operations in the wake of devastating floods and mudslides.

Two hundred and fifty bodies have already been identified in the northern city of Gonaïves, and the final death toll may be even higher than that, according to the UN Development Programme's (UNDP) Risk and Disaster Management Unit.

A delegation of senior officials from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and Government ministers led by Prime Minister Gérard Latortue witnessed the destruction first-hand during a visit to the town and surrounding areas on Sunday.

As much as 80 per cent of Gonaïves, a city of about 100,000 inhabitants, is under water and mud as a result of tropical storm Jeanne, which struck the country after earlier causing death and damage in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The city has been declared a disaster zone by national authorities.

"It's a real catastrophe," Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative Adama Guindo said after taking part in yesterday's visit to the north.

UN agencies are rushing emergency supplies to Gonaïves, while MINUSTAH organized 15 helicopter flights to the area yesterday to provide assistance. Inspection missions have also been sent to Port de Paix and Isle de la Tortue on the north coast.

Tropical storm Jeanne is the latest in a long line of natural disasters to strike the Caribbean in the past two months, with Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan also wreaking havoc and costing dozens of lives.

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