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Haitians fear food shortages and cholera in storm's wake

THE GOVERNMENT of Haiti has warned that Hurricane Sandy represents a "disaster of major proportions", which could bring food shortages as well as an imminent spike in the number of life-threatening cholera cases.

At least 52 people were killed and 18,000 forced from their homes when the storm hit the Caribbean nation last week. But Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe has told reporters that the after-effects of the storm could prove to be more deadly.

"This is a disaster of major proportions," he warned. "The whole south is under water . . . the economy took a huge hit. Most of the crops that were left from Hurricane Isaac were destroyed during Sandy. So food security will be an issue."

Twenty people remain missing from the disaster. Pictures have shown destroyed bridges, submerged houses and standing water across the country. But the greatest threat to life may come from cholera, which is spread via contaminated water.

Aid agencies have already reported 86 new cases of the disease in the capital, Port-au-Prince, with eight deaths. Since the start of an outbreak that began in October 2010, roughly 600,000 people have been affected by the disease and more than 7,400 have died.

Many of the victims were among the more than 300,000 people still living in refugee camps established in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake, which killed about 280,000 people. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent