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Hanna leaves 61 dead in Haiti

world Updated: Sep 04, 2008 09:13 IST

AFP
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Helicopters hovered over the flooded Haitian city of Gonaives plucking survivors from rooftops as authorities reported that Tropical Storm Hanna left 61 people dead.

Hanna is the third major storm to pound the area in as many weeks, and comes as two more storm systems churned in the Atlantic and with Hanna threatening to strengthen to hurricane status.

The Gonaives flooding raised memories of the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004, when about 3,000 people
were killed, mostly in the northern city.

"Something must be done quickly," said Germain Michelet, a priest who took refuge from the flooding on the second floor of the archbishop's office in Gonaives.

"I don't know how much longer we will remain alive," he told AFP. "If we are forced to go through another night under these conditions, there will not be many survivors."

The UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) carried out numerous helicopter rescue missions in Gonaives, saving many lives.

"We have managed to recover two dozen people who were trapped on rooftops," MINUSTAH spokeswoman Sophie Boutaud de la Combe told AFP, adding that nine wounded were flown to the capital for treatment.

The Gonaives hospital was also flooded, a doctor told local radio. "The patients are grouped in one room," the unnamed doctor said. He added: "The situation is critical."

Haiti is especially prone to flooding and landslides due to widespread deforestation on its section of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic.