Haiti 'unprepared' as hurricane approaches
Published 05/11/2010 | 11:07
A powerful tropical storm is threatening to unleash lethal landslides in Haiti where hundreds of thousands of survivors of January's devastating earthquake still live in exposed tent cities as aid workers warned the country is 'unprepared'.
Haitian leaders urged many displaced in the tent cities to evacuate as the storm bore down, but thousands clung to their makeshift homes.
"My sisters and brothers, leave the zones that are at risk, I beg of you," Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said in a television address.
Tropical Storm Tomas is forecast to regain hurricane strength today as it barrels past the coastline of the impoverished Caribbean country.
The US National Hurricane Centre said Tomas is expected to bring surging waves, heavy rains and possible flash flooding and mudslides.
Aid workers fear that up to 15 inches of rain will send torrents of mud on to the tent settlements sandwiched between the sea and mountains.
Aid agencies feared that flooding will exacerbate a cholera outbreak that has claimed 440 lives and sickened thousands.
After an earthquake that killed about 250,000 people, an estimated 1.3 million people remain homeless in and around the capital Port-au-Prince, which sits beneath a bowl of mountains.
Although aid groups were working to protect sprawling makeshift tent settlements and Haitian civil protection officials advised camp residents to find other shelter, most have nowhere to go.
As darkness fell and the first light rains arrived last night, most camp presidents were huddled under canvas and tarpaulin. "We are in God's hands," said Ave Lise Mesila as she sheltered in her tent.
Leonard Doyle, a spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration, said: "The big fear is for people on exposed mountains. These people are at high risk of landslides and flash flooding."