5 October 2016
Hurricane Matthew has slammed into Haiti causing widespread flooding and damage to housing.
The category-four storm brought heavy rain and winds of up to 145mph (230kmh) as it made landfall over the south of the country yesterday morning.
More than 1.24 million people have been affected in the Grand Anse and Sud regions of the country, including an estimated half a million children.
A major bridge, which provided the only link between the capital Port-au-Prince and the south-west peninsula, has collapsed.
Communication with that part of the country is challenging as the storm has damaged telephone lines.
Major flooding and damage to houses has been reported in a number of areas, while the coastal town of Les Cayes has been particularly affected.
Five deaths have so far been reported, while more than 10,000 people are in emergency shelters.
In the days before the hurricane hit, Haiti Red Cross volunteers visited communities in the path of the storm to warn people about the danger.
The Red Cross also used local radio to get information to as many people as possible, while emergency supplies for 3,000 families were readied ahead of the storm’s arrival.
David Foster, from the British Red Cross emergencies team, said: “The priority now is to assess the damage as quickly as possible and provide emergency relief to people who need it.
“Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and communities are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters with many people living in fragile housing.
“Given the heavy rainfall and flooding, the danger now is for landslides and outbreaks of waterborne diseases.
“We’re in touch with our colleagues on the ground and stand ready to support them.”
Hurricane Matthew, which has now been downgraded to category three, has passed over eastern Cuba and is forecast to hit the Bahamas and America’s east coast over the next 48 hours.