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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 December, 2003, 11:23 GMT
Storm pummels Dominican Republic
Residents in north central Dominican Republic evacuate their homes
Some residents remain homeless from earlier storms
Thousands of people fled their homes in the Dominican Republic as storms lashed the Caribbean nation.

More than 10,000 people were evacuated from southwestern areas as the rare, out-of-season Tropical Storm Odette moved in on Saturday.

Officials were particularly concerned as the storm moved northwards to areas badly hit from heavy rains three weeks ago that left at least seven dead.

The warning covers most of Hispaniola island, which is shared with Haiti.

Dominican officials were helping residents, particularly those living next to river banks, to leave their homes.

Some were still homeless after being evacuated three weeks ago - including 15 families who had sought refuge under a bridge in northern Santiago city.

"The civil defence came early this morning just to tell us that we have to leave this place, but without giving us any solution to our problem," said Octavio Antonio Luna, who sat amid his salvaged household goods.

Bus crash

The floodgates of three almost full northern dams were opened to prevent a flood that could destroy a number of communities.

The Dominican meteorological service recorded up to five inches (13 cms) of rain on Saturday afternoon.

Dominican Republic
Officials said 11 people suffered minor injuries when a bus slid on a road and crashed in the south of the island.

The storm was expected to weaken and then pick up strength as it moved north across the mountainous island on Sunday.

"The situation is very worrying because the ground in the north and northeast was already saturated... which increases the dangers of flooding," said Jose Luis German of the National Emergency Commission.

More than 2,000 people were evacuated in the storms three weeks ago that caused landslides and flash floods.

Storms at this time of year are a rarity as the Caribbean hurricane season normally finishes at the end of November.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Stephen Gibbs
"Roads in Santa Domingo soon turned to rivers"



SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Dominican Republic
26 Nov 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Haiti
08 Nov 03  |  Country profiles
Hurricane Iris threatens Caribbean
07 Oct 01  |  Americas
Timeline: Dominican Republic
02 Dec 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Haiti
26 Jul 03  |  Country profiles


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