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'Hundreds' killed by Haiti storm

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Aerial footage of the aftermath of deadly storm in Haiti

Almost 500 bodies have been found in the port city of Gonaives, Haiti, after floodwaters caused by recent storms receded, according to reports.

Police commissioner Ernst Dorfeuille said 495 bodies had been found and the toll could get higher.

A ship carrying 33 tons of UN aid arrived in Haiti on Friday to help an estimated 600,000 people struggling in the wake of tropical storm Hanna.

The storm is heading for the US, while Hurricane Ike threatens the Bahamas.

The US National Hurricane Center says Ike is a Category Three hurricane, with winds of up to 185 km/h (115mph).

The smell of the dead is very unpleasant in Gonaives
Commissioner Ernst Dorfeuille

It is expected to pass near or over the Turks and Caicos Islands and south-eastern Bahamas late on Saturday or early Sunday.

By then it could be a major hurricane, forecasters say.

Tropical storm Hanna made landfall in the US early on Saturday, dropping heavy rain on beaches near the border between North and South Carolina.

Storm warnings are in force along the Atlantic coast from Georgia to New Jersey.

In Haiti, the devastation from the storm in Gonaives has been described as catastrophic.

Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis said her newly-installed government would take the necessary measures to help victims.

Stench of death

Commissioner Dorfeuille told Reuters new agency: "The weather is calm now and we are discovering more bodies. We have found 495 bodies so far and there are 13 people missing.

"The smell of the dead is very unpleasant in Gonaives. The death toll could be even higher."

Haiti floods

Hanna dumped massive amounts of rain on the country over four days, blowing down fruit trees and swamping tin-roofed houses.

The port city of Gonaives bore the brunt of the storm, forcing thousands of people to seek shelter on rooftops and balconies as flood waters rose.

The UN's humanitarian co-ordinator in Haiti, Joel Boutrioue, told the BBC it was still difficult to get aid to thousands of people. Roads are cut off and access to some areas is only possible by air - which is limited by the available number of helicopters.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has also launched an appeal, asking for $3.4m in aid.

Haiti was first drenched by Tropical Storm Fay, before Hurricane Gustav wreaked havoc last week, with torrential rainfall over heavily deforested and hilly terrain causing floods and mudslides.

Earlier, Hanna was also blamed for two deaths in Puerto Rico.

In the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, there have been no reports of major damage.

However, preparations are under way for the arrival of Hurricane Ike.

"The ground is saturated and some of the dams in the south-east region are fairly close to their maximum capacity," said meteorological official Gloria Ceballos.

Civil defence director Colonel Juan Manuel Mendez said Dominican troops had been put on alert.

Map of Hurricane Ike's predicted route


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SEE ALSO
First aid ship arrives in Haiti
06 Sep 08 |  Americas
In pictures: Haiti relief
05 Sep 08 |  In Pictures
Eyewitness: Haiti's storm ordeals
04 Sep 08 |  Americas
In pictures: Haiti reels from storms
04 Sep 08 |  In Pictures
Gustav's 'pure terror' for Cubans
02 Sep 08 |  Americas
Animated guide: Hurricanes
01 Jun 05 |  Science & Environment
Country profile: Haiti
04 Jun 08 |  Country profiles

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