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Haiti death toll from four storms at least 326: gov't

Storm damage in Gonaives, Haiti. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Sept 11, 2008
The four major storms that struck Haiti over the past four weeks left at least 326 people dead and 50 missing throughout the country, authorities said Thursday.

The series of storms -- two tropical storms and two hurricanes, including Ike which grazed Haiti's waterlogged northwest last weekend -- "is the largest catastrophe to strike the country in several years," Interior Minister Paul-Antoine Bien-Aime said at a news conference.

In addition to the dead and missing, the toll includes 190 people wounded, 170,000 families stricken by the storm, and 151,000 refugees in storm shelters, according to authorities.

At least 10,800 homes were destroyed by the line of severe storms, as were several roads and bridges which has complicated the distribution of critically-needed aid.

On Saturday the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) cited a far higher toll.

"According to information from the government (in Port-au-Prince) we have reached more than 500 deaths," an OCHA official had told AFP after Tropical Storm Hanna blasted the country.

The previous storm, Hurricane Gustav, caused at least deaths.

The country's new Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis said the government on Thursday declared a nationwide state of emergency "for 15 days, after a law was quickly approved by parliament."

"The Haitian government welcomes the international aid and the response brought about by the international appeal" launched by Haitian officials, but it also called for "financial aid" from donor countries, Pierre-Louis said.

Officials in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, have already allocated 51 million gourdes (about seven million dollars) to go towards aiding victims of the disasters.

On Wednesday the United Nations called 107 million dollars in humanitarian aid to help Haiti recover from the storms, which UN emergency relief coordinator John Holmes said affected 800,000 people, about 10 percent of the population, with many lacking food and shelter.

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Hopes fade for 'several hundred' missing in China landslide
Xiangfen, China (AFP) Sept 11, 2008
Several hundred people believed missing after a landslide engulfed a Chinese town are likely dead, state press said Thursday, citing a senior official, as the official toll rose to 151.

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