Death toll reaches 42 as Haiti inundated by deadly floods

Thousands have been displaced and dozens killed by flooding as country reels from climate change and political crisis.

People toss water out of their homes with a bucket
Residents use plastic bins to remove water from their flooded home in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on Saturday, June 3 [Odelyn Joseph/AP Photo]

Dozens of people have died in the Caribbean island nation of Haiti as heavy rain and flooding devastate the country.

On Monday, the government’s disaster response agency said that at least 42 people had been killed, 13,300 had lost their homes, and 11 were missing after a weekend of torrential downpours that triggered mudslides and caused rivers to burst their banks.

“It is essential to follow the recommendations of local authorities on the subject of preventing flood risks and evacuation,” the country’s Civil Protection agency said in a statement on Monday. The agency added it “also takes this moment to remind people at risk not to cross swollen waterways and wild waters under any circumstances”.

The floods have turned city streets into churning brown rivers, damaging homes, displacing residents and carrying away cars and debris. The disaster is the latest in a series of crises to roil Haiti, which is struggling with an economic downturn, a rise in gang violence and political instability.

Rivers began to overflow due to excessive rain on June 3, forcing people out of their homes in at least five of the country’s 10 departments: Ouest, Nippes, Sud-Est, Nord-Ouest and Centre.

By Sunday, the government reported a death toll of 15. But on Monday, the Civil Protection agency updated the number of people killed to 42, with at least 85 injured.

Haitian authorities have said that emergency response teams are trying to reach affected communities, some of which were cut off from transportation routes by the flooding.

In a tweet on Sunday, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry stated that the government was working “in concert with national and international institutions” to “adopt urgent measures in order to confront current demands”.

The World Food Programme, the United Nations food assistance agency, has said that it will start providing displaced people with hot meals and mobilising resources to provide rations and dry food for up to 15,000 people.

The flooding has brought further hardship to Haitians, nearly half of whom were experiencing high levels of food insecurity before the floods, according to the UN. The disaster also underscores the threat that climate change poses to those in countries with fewer resources to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies