Hurricane Matthew: Haiti mourns amid cholera fears

image copyrightAFP
image captionHaiti is observing three days of national mourning for the victims of the hurricane

Survivors of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti are mourning the victims as fears of an increase in cholera cases grow.

On Sunday Haitians attended church services to remember the dead, some worshipping outside because buildings were destroyed.

The Category Four storm is believed to have killed as many as 900 people in the Caribbean country.

In the US, at least 18 people were killed as the storm made its way north. It has now moved out to sea.

The hurricane was the strongest to hit the region in a decade. It kept up its hurricane strength with winds of at least 110mph (177km/h) for seven days.

In Haiti, the poorest country in Latin America, it destroyed tens of thousands of homes, leaving more than 60,000 people staying in temporary shelters.

The UN's humanitarian co-ordinator in Haiti, Mourad Wahba, said: "We are not far from having one million people who are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance."

Crops were destroyed, putting pressure on food resources, and at least 13 people have died of cholera following widespread flooding, raising fears of an outbreak similar to that after the 2010 earthquake, when nearly 10,000 people died.

image copyrightReuters
image captionHaiti has been suffering from a cholera outbreak since 2010
image copyrightReuters
image captionThese people are receiving rehydration treatment at the hospital in the town of Jeremie

A Reuters reporter who visited the hospital in the town of Port-a-Piment in the badly-hit south-west of Haiti on Sunday found several patients sick with cholera were being brought in an hour - a big increase since the hurricane hit.

Haiti has been experiencing a cholera outbreak since 2010, when the waterborne disease reached the island via Nepalese UN troops.

A health worker at a cholera treatment centre in the town of Jeremie, where up to 80% of buildings have been destroyed, said there were not enough beds for the patients who were coming in.

Other countries including France and the US have pledged to send aid. The Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal for $6.9m (£5.6m) and Unicef said it needed at least $5m to meet the immediate needs of 500,000 affected children.

But one aid worker said some people had started to put up blockades to try and stop aid convoys they saw driving through their areas without stopping.

image copyrightAP
image captionThis congregation in Jeremie had to pray outdoors after their church building was destroyed

Hurricane Matthew was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone early on Sunday and the winds reduced to 75mph (121km/h) as it passed over south-eastern states of the US. But it still brought substantial damage, flooding cities and knocking out electric power to millions of homes and businesses. Two million people were ordered to leave their homes.

Of the 18 people who are so far known to have died in the US, eight were in North Carolina. Some were swept away by floodwater while in their vehicles; some were killed by falling trees; some suffocated in carbon monoxide fumes from generators; and one elderly man was pinned to the ground by his electric wheelchair.

At least five more people are known to be missing in the state. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said the danger from flooding would continue as rivers were still swelling.

"Hurricane Matthew is off the map. But it is still with us. And it is still deadly," he said.

image copyrightAP
image captionAs flood waters recede in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the damage to underlying roads is becoming clear

President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency, meaning federal money can be sent to the affected states.

Gov McCrory made a plea for people to turn their attention from the political news in the presidential debate to his state's plight.

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