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Friday, September 25, 1998 Published at 01:24 GMT 02:24 UK

World: Americas

Rescuers find 80 bodies in river

The hurricane has left 100,000 homeless

Rescuers in the Dominican Republic recovered at least 80 bodies on Thursday, after hurricane Georges swept across the region this week.

The bodies bring the death toll in the Carribean to 200.

The bodies were recovered from a single river, said Angel Almanzar, director of the Dominican Red Cross.

Rescue teams had struggled to reach remote regions of the country.

At least 100,000 people have been made homeless, and telephones and other means of communication have been badly affected.

In the capital, Santo Domingo, gangs armed with guns and machetes roamed the streets looting shops.

[ image: Soldiers patrolled the streets of the capital in search of looters]
Soldiers patrolled the streets of the capital in search of looters
The death toll includes two looters shot dead by police who were enforcing a curfew imposed by President Leonel Fernandez.

The United States coastguard sent an aircraft to help search for victims, and the Spanish government has promised $10m in emergency aid.

In San Cristobal 45 people are missing after the school they were sheltering in was demolished when the Nizao River burst its banks.

The same river flooded thousands of homes in the La Cienega shantytown on the outskirts of the capital Santo Domingo.

Around 90% of the Dominican Republic's banana crop is thought to have been destroyed, along with $13m worth of sugar cane.

President Fernandez estimated it would take $113m to repair the country's electricity infrastructure.

He said the outlook was "desolate" and urged people to attend church on Thursday, the holy day for the country's patron saint, Mercedes.

He said: "Pray and ask the Almighty to help the destiny of our people."

Swathe of destruction

[ image: In Haiti, floods destroyed thousands of homes]
In Haiti, floods destroyed thousands of homes
The Dominican Republic was not the only casualty in the swathe of destruction left by the storm as it swept across the Caribbean.

  • The hurricane hit St. Kitts on Monday, causing damage estimated by the government at $445m and killing three people.

  • Two people died on neighbouring Antigua and hundreds of tourists were transferred to resorts in Barbados.

  • The US Virgin Islands, which have been badly battered in recent hurricanes, suffered damage to homes and hotels. On the island of St Croix a man was shot dead by a looter who entered his storm-damaged home.

  • Three people were killed in Puerto Rico, where the government's insurance commissioner, Juan Garcia, estimated damages at $1bn.

    The deaths of eight elderly Puerto Ricans, from heart attacks and other stress-related illnesses, are also being attributed to the hurricane.

    Much of Puerto Rico was left without electricity and running water and coffee and plantain crops were damaged.

  • Thousands of flimsy homes in Haiti, one of the world's poorest nations, have been bowled over by flash floods and 27 people have drowned.

  • Georges battered the northern coast of Cuba on Wednesday, finally passing over Camaguey province on Thursday morning and heading for Florida.

    The Cuban authorities have evacuated 200,000 people in eastern Cuba and declared a state of emergency.

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