Haiti fatalities from Hurricane Matthew climb to nearly 900
Cholera outbreak adds to death toll, funerals begin in country devastated by violent storm
An outbreak of cholera is adding to the number of people killed by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, where most of the storm's fatalities were reported in villages on a normally picturesque southwestern peninsula.
Information is slow in coming, but it now appears nearly 900 Haitians died in the storm and many more remain missing.
Cholera outbreaks have killed at least 13 people in southwest Haiti in the hurricane's wake, government officials said Saturday, voicing concern that the disease is spreading.
Six people died of cholera in the southern town of Randel, while another seven died in the western coastal town of Anse-d'Hainault, the officials said.
Dr. Donald Francois, head of the Haitian health ministry's cholera program, said 62 others were sick with the disease. Flooding from storms spreads the water-borne infection, which causes severe diarrhea.
Cuba sent 38 doctors to the neighbouring island nation Saturday along with a shipment of aid and supplies.
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The number of deaths in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, jumped to at least 877 on Friday as information trickled in from remote areas previously cut off by the storm, according to a Reuters tally of tolls from officials.
Officials say at least 30,000 homes were destroyed on one southwestern peninsula alone. Thick mud and water could be seen on roads in the town of Cavaillon, which is located on Tiburon peninsula.
Most of the fatalities were in towns and fishing villages around the western end of the peninsula, normally one of Haiti's most picturesque regions.
The storm passed directly through the peninsula, driving the sea inland and flattening homes last Monday and Tuesday.
The vicious winds also flattened sugar plantations, knocked out electricity and left garbage and water in the streets.
In the the farming village of Chantal, the mayor said 86 people died, mostly when trees crushed houses. He said 20 others were missing.
"A tree fell on the house and flattened it. The entire house fell on us. I couldn't get out," said 27-year-old driver Jean-Pierre Jean-Donald.
"People came to lift the rubble, and then we saw my wife who had died in the same spot," said Jean-Donald, who had been married for only a year. His young daughter stood by his side, crying "Mommy."
With cellphone networks down and roads flooded, aid has been slow to reach hard-hit areas. Food was scarce and at least seven people died of cholera, likely because of flood water mixing with sewage.
The Mesa Verde, a U.S. Navy amphibious transport dock ship, was en route to Haiti to support relief efforts. The ship has heavy-lift helicopters, bulldozers, fresh-water delivery vehicles and two surgical operating rooms.
Canada allocates $3M for relief efforts
Canada is joining efforts to help Haiti recover from the storm.
"We just released a first amount of $300,000 to the Red Cross," Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada's minister of international development, told CBC.
"We are still waiting for the United Nations to submit their request, and we have our own team in the field right now," providing food, water, sanitation and basic health services, she said.
The Canadian Disaster Assessment Team (CDAT) has been deployed to Haiti to assess needs and coordinate relief efforts, Global Affairs Canada said in a news release on Thursday.
"The Canadian government has set aside up to $3 million as an initial humanitarian response for those in Haiti and other countries in the region affected by Hurricane Matthew," the release said.
More than 1.24 million people have been affected by the storm in Haiti, Global Affairs Canada said.
The storm is also blamed for at least 10 deaths in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. Four people were killed last weekend in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.
With files from Reuters and The Associated Press