Nealy 900 people were killed and tens of thousands of people were left homeless after Hurricane Matthew hit the island nation of Haiti on Thursday and Florida on Friday, while at least four have been killed in storm-related incidents in the United States, The Telegraph reported. United Nations officials said that at least seven cholera deaths have been reported, while doctors are treating 17 cases of the disease, Reuters reported.
Local authorities believe that the numbers may soar as relief teams are still trying to gain access to the southern areas cut off by the largest storm to hit the Caribbean in a decade. Lack of phone coverage and destroyed power lines are making the rescue operations more difficult.
The storm, which is believed to have dropped in wind speed to 110 miles per hour, has been downgraded to Category Two – Category Five being the strongest on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. Most of those reported dead are from the the south-western coast of Haiti. The storm has destroyed 80% of the town of Jeremie. The other towns that are badly affected by the storm include the village of Chantal. The mayor told Reuters that 86 people had died and 20 more were missing from the region. The Haitian presidential elections scheduled for Sunday have been postponed, and a cholera warning has been sent out.
The United Nations has said that the full impact of the storm and the damage it has caused can be properly assessed only after a few days. The local administration and UN officials believe that more than 3,50,000 people have been affected by the storm. World Food Programme's Haiti director, Mr Veloso, said, "This is a situation changing all the time. I think that for the next four or five days, maybe only in five days, we will have a more clear picture of the impact and the death toll."
The United States government has decided to send its USS Mesa Verde navy ship with 300 Marines and nine military helicopters to help with the rescue and relief operations. It has already deployed 250 personnel in the region. The Red Cross is trying to raise $6.9m "to provide medical, shelter, water and sanitation assistance to 50,000 people".
Hurricane Matthew made landfall in the United States on Friday, a day after President Barack Obama on Thursday declared a state of emergency in Florida and South Carolina. The Florida governor also urged 1.5 million residents to evacuate the state, fearing that the hurricane may intensify into a deadly storm when it makes landfall, and would lead to “catastrophic damage”. “There are no excuses, you need to leave,” said Governor Rick Scott.