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Haiti blasted by third deadly tropical storm in 3 weeks

by Staff Writers
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Sept 2, 2008
Ten people were killed as Hanna lashed the north of Haiti Tuesday, the third deadly tropical storm to unleash its wrath on the impoverished Caribbean nation in under three weeks.

Haiti's third largest city, Gonaives, was under water, and officials pleaded for help in a region still traumatized by flooding from Tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004, when more than 2,800 people died in Gonaives and nearly 200 more elsewhere.

"The situation in Gonaives is extremely urgent. I appeal for help," said Stephen Moise, mayor of the city of 300,000, 152 kilometers (94 miles) north of Port-au-Prince.

"Practically the whole city is flooded, there is water everywhere. The water is rising in some areas to more than two meters (six feet)," Moise told AFP by telephone.

"The situation is critical today, it can be compared with what happened four years ago," Moise said.

Gonaives residents reached by telephone said floodwaters had reached the ceilings of some homes, forcing inhabitants to seek safety on the roof.

"I have seen about 10 bodies floating in the flooded streets of the city," Ernst Dorfeuille of the Gonaives police told AFP by phone.

"I don't know how long we will stay alive," a clearly panicked father, Germain Michelet, told AFP. "If we have to go another night in these conditions, there will not be a lot of survivors."

The latest devastation came as Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share the island of Hispaniola, were still reeling from Hurricane Gustav.

Gustav killed 77 people and left eight others missing in Haiti, and another eight dead in the Dominican Republic.

And only two weeks ago Tropical Storm Fay sparked flooding in Haiti that left about 40 people dead.

On Tuesday Hanna lost some wind strength and was downgraded to a tropical storm with driving rains that could spark deadly flooding in the northeastern Caribbean, the US National Hurricane Center in Miami warned.

It said Hanna could dump up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) in the southeastern Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos islands and Cuba, and up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) in northern portions of Hispaniola.

"These rains could cause life-threatening mudslides and flash flooding," the NHC warned.

The storm was expected to turn in a northwestern direction late Tuesday or Wednesday taking it over the southeastern Bahamas Tuesday and the central Bahamas late Tuesday and Wednesday, the NHC said at 1800 GMT.

It was blowing sustained winds of 110 kilometers (70 miles) per hour, and not expected to change strength over the next 24 hours.

However, forecasters gave the storm a good chance of becoming a hurricane again by Thursday.

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US monitors new storms after Gustav hits Gulf coast
Miami (AFP) Sept 2, 2008
US officials were keeping a close eye Tuesday on three tropical storms posing potential threats after deadly Hurricane Gustav battered the US Gulf Coast.

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