Hurricane Tomas leaves eight dead


Port-au-Prince (Haiti) : The death toll from Hurricane Tomas rose to eight in Haiti Sunday, as officials expressed fear that flooding from the storm could worsen the cholera outbreak in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

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The storm left two others missing and at least 11 injured, even as it largely spared Haiti the worst of its fury after bypassing most of the country and weakening Saturday to tropical storm status. The UN and aid groups had warned of a possible disaster.

Still, there was flooding in several areas of southwestern and central Haiti. The storm damaged many homes, ripping tin roofs from many huts. The capital, Port-au-Prince, which was wrecked by an earthquake in January was largely undamaged by the storm, with only light flooding in low-lying areas.

With about one million people still living in tents and other temporary shelters throughout the earthquake region, public health officials have been scrambling to contain a cholera outbreak, which started last month in an outlying district but has yet to strike the camps in the capital teeming with quake-displaced people.

The toll from the outbreak rose over 500 over the weekend and more than 7,350 people have fallen ill, health officials said.

During the storm, officials had to break down two of four cholera treatment centres, leaving only 1,000 beds in the remaining treatment centres.

Tomas had faded by Sunday evening. The US National Hurricane Centre said the storm had lost its tropical characteristics and was expected to continue to weaken.