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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 May, 2004, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Bid to ease Caribbean flood woes
Rescue workers carry the body of a flood victim in Jimani, Dominican Republic
Relief workers wore masks against the stench of decomposing flesh
Relief operations are continuing to help survivors left homeless after devastating floods in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

In Haiti, a joint mission by the UN and other agencies has airlifted supplies of drinking water to affected areas.

As the flood waters recede, soldiers in the Dominican Republic are picking through wreckage, but hopes of finding more survivors are fading.

Nearly 900 people have died since the rains struck and many more are missing.

Troops from the multinational force in Haiti are helping with relief work.

'Nothing left'

Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva, told the AFP news agency that the UN, the Red Cross and Oxfam had sent a joint mission to the Haitian town of Mapou.

She said it carried 1.5 tons of water and water purification tablets.

I can't find them. I didn't know they were burying them. They should let me find them first
Leonardo Novas
Lost five family members in Jimani

An 11-strong team from the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) and the Haitian health ministry was also due to fly on Thursday to the southern Haitian town of Fonds Verettes.

The WFP managed to bring in three tonnes of emergency food to the town Wednesday, and said it was targeting a total of 300 tons of food for hard-hit regions.

Over 150 people are missing or dead in Fonds Verettes, where mudslides and landslides from an adjacent hill swept away most houses.

"The river took everything. There isn't anything left," said Jermani Vulsont, a mother who told AP news agency the water had swept away her five children early on Monday.

Disease fears

The floods came after two weeks of persistent rain saturated the ground on the mountainous island of Hispaniola, which is divided between the two countries.

Click to see details of flood area

The BBC's Jeremy Cooke in the Dominican Republic says volunteers from other parts of the country have travelled to one of the worst-hit areas, the border town of Jimani, to help with relief efforts.

Our correspondent says President Hipolito Mejia has visited the town and said he is satisfied with the international response to the disaster.

Earlier, people in the town had complained that the authorities were not doing enough to help.

Journalist Jean-Michel Caroit told the BBC's Caribbean Service: "People in Jimani told me that nobody was helping them except for family members and neighbours. As far as the central government is concerned, very little has been done."

The BBC's Jeremy Cooke says there is now little chance that more survivors will be pulled from the debris of the homes that were swept away by the floods.

Instead, he says, the main concentration of effort is on finding the bodies of those who have died, although many of these have been carried miles downstream from the places where they lived.

He says many bodies have been found since the waters have receded and authorities are burying the dead where they find them to prevent disease spreading.

Our correspondent says one of the most urgent priorities is for clean drinking water, while the government seems to be overwhelmed by the disaster.

Confused reports

At least 100 deaths were reported in Grand Gosier, also in the south.

Figures of the dead for Mapou are confused, but at least 100 people - and possibly several times that - are reported to have died.

In the Dominican Republic, another 150 bodies were found in Jimani, which took the brunt of the floods.

In total, about 300 bodies have been recovered from Jimani so far, with about 300 people missing.

Peacekeepers stationed in Haiti have been using helicopters to carry supplies to the worst-hit regions, a spokesman for the US-led 3,600-strong force said.

Many roads remain impassable after weeks of rain.

The Dominican government has sent emergency teams, including hundreds of extra troops, from the capital, Santo Domingo.

Damage to both countries' crops and infrastructure is being estimated at many millions of dollars.

The European Union is preparing to send an emergency package worth some two million euros ($2.43m).

The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
"It will take some sort of outside help to stabilise the situation"

Toll mounts after Caribbean flood
27 May 04  |  Americas
'Mudslides leave massive scar'
26 May 04  |  Americas
In pictures: Dominican floods
26 May 04  |  In Pictures
Press solidarity with flood victims
26 May 04  |  Americas
Country profile: Dominican Republic
26 Nov 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Dominican Republic
02 Dec 03  |  Country profiles


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