A girl stands next to her tent Saturday after it fell down during a severe windstorm that swept through a camp for earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. ((Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press))

A freak storm blasted through Haiti's capital on Friday, killing at least five people as it tore down trees, billboards and tent homes, authorities said.

Three adults and two children were killed in the tarp, tent and shack camps that still dominate Port-au-Prince more than eight months after the Jan. 12 earthquake, civil protection head Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste said.

The storm passed quickly through the mountain-ringed bowl of the city on Friday, exposing rubble-filled neighbourhoods to no more than a few minutes of wind and rain.

But that was enough to provoke panic and chaos, especially in encampments still home to more than 1.3 million people.

Several more were injured in the storm.

Gales sent tarps and poles flying, threw tin roofs into the sky and opened family shacks to driving rain.

Wind rattled walls and windows of standing buildings with a clamour reminiscent of the quake itself.

"It was just a storm. Just a wind put us in a corner," said Bresil Vignion, standing in the wreckage of his family's tin shack in a camp along the Canape-Vert road.

Haitian radio did not immediately report deaths or injuries.

Storm not linked to any severe weather system

Reports of storm damage and deaths were slow to filter in as cellphone reception remained degraded hours after the storm had passed.

Power outages were noted along much of the capital's already struggling grid.

The sudden storm was not associated with any tropical system, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in Miami.

Meteorologists saw only a low-pressure system move across the Greater Antilles.

But for those living in this ravaged city, where reconstruction has barely begun, it was a forceful reminder of the danger still posed to a vulnerable country by an active Atlantic hurricane season months from being over.