Haiti Death Toll Over 700, More Missing; Jeanne Continues on Erratic Course

September 22, 2004

Even as aid workers in Haiti struggled to cope with the disaster caused by floods unleashed from the passage of Tropical Storm Jeanne, the death toll continues to mount. Agence France Presse reported that “in the northern town of Gonaives, about 600 bodies were recovered, while 60 deaths were confirmed in Port de Paix and a further 49 in surrounding areas.”

At least 700 people have died as a direct result of the floods, and more than 1000 are still missing. At least 170,000 people have been displaced in one of the world’s poorest countries. Haiti’s interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue told the BBC that more than 80,000 people in the northwest of the Caribbean country had absolutely nothing to eat. “There’s not a single house in Gonaives that has not been flooded,” he told the AFP after surveying the town from the air.

Jeanne is currently a category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds are near 90 mph (150 km/hr). The storm was described by Miami’s National Hurricane Center as “meandering between the Bahamas and Bermuda.” The NHC’s most recent bulletin said the “eye of hurricane Jeanne was located near latitude 27.0 north-longitude 68.7 west or about 520 miles (835 km) east of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas.”

The storm is moving toward the south near at about 3-mph (6 km/hr), and “little motion is expected during the next 24 hours,” nor does the NHC expect much change in strength. That may not be much comfort. For all its lack of strength, Jeanne has caused more loss of life than Ivan, Frances and Charley combined.

The NHC warned, however, that: “Dangerous surf and rip currents caused by large swells generated by hurricane Jeanne are possible along the Southeastern U.S. coast and the northwest and central Bahamas for the next few days.” Perhaps even more troubling is the NHC’s 5-day forecast of Jeanne’s predicted path, which, if it continues, places the storm off the Carolina Coast by Monday.

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