The death toll in Haiti has soared after Hurricane Matthew


Hurricane Matthew is the first Category 4 storm to hit Haiti in over 50 years, and it has wreaked havoc on the country. The death toll is climbing at an alarming rate, as receding waters reveal more bodies.

At least 283 people died in just one part of Haiti's south west, the region that bore the brunt of the storm, Emmanuel Pierre, an Interior Ministry co-ordinator in Les Cayes, said.

Haiti hurricane.
(Dieu Nalio Chery/AP)

The overall death toll in Haiti is not clear. Shortly before Pierre spoke, the headquarters for Haiti's Civil Protection Agency had put the number of confirmed deaths for the whole country at 122.

Authorities expect the number of deaths to rise, with mayors and other local officials in marooned areas reporting higher numbers. Most deaths are thought to have occurred in the south west region.

Bodies started to appear as waters receded in some places two days after Matthew's 145mph winds smashed concrete walls, flattened palm trees and tore roofs off homes, forcing thousands of Haitians to flee.

Hurricane Matthew.
(Dieu Nalio Chery/AP)

Officials were especially concerned about the department of Grand-Anse on the northern tip of the peninsula, where they believe the death toll and damage is highest. The 283 deaths reported early on Friday did not include Grand-Anse or other nearby areas.

"Devastation is everywhere," said Pilus Enor, mayor of the town of Camp Perrin. "Every house has lost its roof. All the plantations have been destroyed. This is the first time we see something like this."

People faced an immediate hunger crisis in Grand-Anse's largest city of Jeremie, said Maarten Boute, chairman of telecom Digicel Haiti, who flew there in a helicopter.

Hurricane Matthew.
(Dieu Nalio Chery/AP)

In the nearby seaport of Les Cayes, many people searched for clean water as they lugged mattresses and other belongings they were able to salvage. Authorities and aid workers are just beginning to get a clear picture of what they fear is the country's biggest disaster in years.

The Pan American Health Organisation warned of a possible surge in cholera cases because of the widespread flooding caused by Matthew.

Haiti's cholera outbreak has killed roughly 10,000 people and sickened more than 800,000 since 2010, when it was introduced into the country's biggest river from a United Nations base where Nepalese peacekeepers were deployed.

Hurricane Matthew.
(Dieu Nalio Chery/AP)

Before hitting Haiti, the storm was blamed for four deaths in the Dominican Republic, one in Colombia and one in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Haiti's government has estimated at least 350,000 people need some kind of assistance.

International aid groups are already appealing for donations for a lengthy recovery effort in Haiti, the hemisphere's least-developed and most aid-dependent nation.

After hitting Haiti, the storm pummelled the Bahamas on Thursday, and was expected to hit Florida's Atlantic cost from Thursday evening.