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Scale of devastation begins to emerge as Haiti death toll passes 800

Footage from the hardest-hit towns shows a ruined landscape with roofs blown away and downed trees everywhere.

THE FULL SCALE of the devastation in hurricane-hit rural Haiti is starting to become clear, as the death toll in the Caribbean nation passes 800.

While the capital and biggest city, Port-au-Prince, was largely spared by Hurricane Matthew, the south suffered devastation.

The country’s Civil Protection Agency has doubled the death toll from the hurricane from 400 to more than 800, the BBC reports.

Haiti Hurricane Matthew A resident works to repair his roof after it was ripped away by Hurricane Matthew in Jeremie, Haiti. Source: Dieu Nalio Chery

Roofs blown away 

Aerial footage from the hardest-hit towns showed a ruined landscape of metal shanties with roofs blown away and downed trees everywhere.

Brown mud from overflowing rivers covered the ground.

Herve Fourcand, a senator for the Sud department, which felt the full force of Matthew’s impact, said several localities were still cut off by flooding and mudslides.

A scene of desolation greeted visitors to Jeremie, a town of 30,000 people left inaccessible until yesterday.

No power. No phone lines. People cut off without news of the capital for days since the storm struck Tuesday – and who had yet to hear that a presidential election due to take place this weekend has been postponed.

Virtually all the town’s corrugated-iron homes have been destroyed, with only a few concrete buildings left standing.

Haiti Hurricane Matthew A woman carries her daughter as she walks through wreckage caused by Hurricane Matthew in Jeremie, Haiti. Source: Dieu Nalio Chery

“It was as if someone had a remote control and just kept turning the wind up higher and higher,” said Carmine Luc, a 22-year-old woman.

When the roof of my house blew off, I clung to a wall with my left hand, and with my right, I held on with all my strength to my three-year-old child – who was screaming.

A ship carrying nine containers of food and medical supplies was headed for Dame Marie, further west in Grand’Anse department.

“It’s probably the hardest hit department and the conditions don’t allow for a helicopter to land there,” Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph told AFP.

So we’re doing our best to help those affected.

Convoys were headed to other affected areas by land, sea and air, he said, including two helicopters provided by the US military to transport 50 tonnes of water, food and medicine elsewhere in Grand’Anse.

Haiti Hurricane Matthew Jean Claude Dimanche sits in front of his home damaged by Hurricane Matthew in Jeremie, Haiti. Source: Dieu Nalio Chery

The US 

A weakened Hurricane Matthew is churning just off the coast of the US states of Georgia and South Carolina this morning, threatening deadly floods after leaving more than a million people without power in Florida and claiming five lives.

Now a Category 2 system with top sustained winds of 165 km/h, it’s closing in on a stretch of coast near historic colonial-era cities of Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia.

“There is a danger of life-threatening inundation during the next 36 hours along the Florida northeast coast, the Georgia coast, the South Carolina coast, and (part of) the North Carolina coast,” the National Hurricane Center in Miami warned.

Authorities in South Carolina have ordered thousands to evacuate inland to shelters, where people have sprawled out in school gyms.

Reporting by © AFP 2016. Additional reporting by Daragh Brophy. 

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