The number of people killed by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti surged on Friday to 572, local officials told Reuters, as help slowly trickled into marooned areas of the country’s southwestern peninsula pummeled by the powerful storm.
Officials say they expect the number of deaths to increase, with isolated areas reporting higher numbers. Most deaths are believed to have occurred in the southwest region.
“Devastation is everywhere,” said Pilus Enor, mayor of Camp Perrin, a town near the port city of Les Cayes on the peninsula’s south shore. “Every house has lost its roof. All the plantations have been destroyed. …This is the first time we see something like this.”
Officials were especially concerned about the department of Grand-Anse on the northern tip of the peninsula, where they believe the death toll and damage is highest. The 283 deaths reported by Pierre did not include Grand-Anse or its surrounding areas.
When Category 4 Hurricane Flora hit Haiti in 1963, it killed as many as 8,000 people.
More bodies began to appear Thursday as waters receded in some places two days after Matthew’s 145 mph winds smashed concrete walls, flattened palm trees and tore roofs off homes, forcing thousands of Haitians to flee.
Those killed in Haiti included a woman and her 6-year-old daughter who frantically abandoned their flimsy home and headed to a nearby church to seek shelter as Matthew surged in early Tuesday, said Ernst Ais, mayor of the town of Cavaillon.
“On the way to the church, the wind took them,” Ais said.
Officials said that food and water were urgently needed, noting that crops had been leveled, wells inundated by seawater and some water treatment facilities destroyed. Foxnews