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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 June, 2005, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Caribbean 'not ready for storms'
Cars drive north on Interstate highway 95 after the first bands of Hurricane Jeanne came ashore in Boynton Beach, Florida
There are now more hurricanes, Jan Egeland says
Tropical storms and hurricanes could kill more people in the Caribbean this year because the region is still not prepared, a top UN official has warned.

Jan Egeland said the US and Europe should have done more to help set up national disaster plans in the area.

"I'm afraid that 2005 could be even worse than 2004, when we lost more than 5,000 lives in Haiti alone," he said.

A hurricane hit the coast of El Salvador this month, in an unusually early start to the annual storm season.

Up to 20,000 people were forced from their homes, before the storm weakened and moved inland.

Evacuation fears

Mr Egeland, the United Nations emergency relief co-ordinator, said the number of annual hurricanes had doubled amid climate changes over the last 15 years.

"I've warned the world it is not going to get better, it is going to become worse. We owe it to the people to prepare them," he said .

Speaking at a workshop on disaster prevention in Havana, he praised Cuba's reaction system, which includes forced evacuations.

But he said the system could not necessarily be applied elsewhere.

We are still recovering from a disaster and we are having to prepare to respond to another - it puts us in a very challenging situation
Silvan McIntyre, Grenada's National Disaster Co-ordinator

In Jamaica, people generally ignore evacuation requests because they fear looting, he said.

Last year, much of Grenada was flattened by Hurricane Ivan.

Grenada's National Disaster Co-ordinator, Silvan McIntyre, said his country's disaster reaction system needs to be rebuilt.

"We are still recovering from a disaster and we are having to prepare to respond to another. It puts us in a very challenging situation," he said.

The Atlantic hurricane season which began on Wednesday continues until 30 November.

The US government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says this season is likely to see 12 to 15 tropical storms, with seven to nine of them becoming hurricanes.

Three to five of those are expected to become major hurricanes.


SEE ALSO:
Year of the hurricanes?
16 Sep 04 |  Science/Nature
Hurricane Adrian hits El Salvador
20 May 05 |  Americas
'This was where I used to live'
29 Sep 04 |  Americas


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