August 27, 2008

Gustav Blamed for 22 Deaths

At least 22 people died in severe flooding and landslides triggered when Hurricane Gustav hit Haiti and the Dominican Republic, officials said Wednesday.

The tropical storm that became a Category 1 hurricane in less than 14 hours in the Caribbean Monday hit Haiti's southern coast Tuesday morning, bringing torrential rains. Haitian radio and CNN reported the swaths of water cut one village in two, as U.S. forecasters in Miami warned of 12 inches of rain with double that possible in isolated areas.

Gustav's winds diminished from 95 mph to 60 mph Wednesday, although it stopped moving forward during the morning for several hours, adding to the deluge. U.S. forecasters said it would move west and become a hurricane once over open waters.

Haitian radio said the country was still trying to recover from last week's arrival of Tropical Storm Fay, which killed at least 50 people, most of whom were in a bus washed away in a landslide.

Gustav was blamed for 14 deaths in Haiti and eight in the Dominican Republic, including six children overwhelmed by a mudslide in Santo Domingo, CNN International reported.

"It has been raining, and it continues to rain," said Michaele Gedeon, president of the Haitian Red Cross. "We have a saturation that is causing floods in several parts of the country. Our volunteers were mobilized some 48 hours ago."