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Mudslides threaten battered Haitians

After dealing a walloping blow to Haiti, where at least six people died and a number of homes were destroyed, Tropical Storm Tomas weakened rapidly Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said.

As of 4 p.m. ET, Tomas was located about 500 miles (805 kilometers) south-southwest of Bermuda, forecasters said. It was downgraded to a tropical storm early Sunday. Its maximum sustained winds were at 60 mph (95 kph), but Tomas was not posing a threat to land.

Video – Haiti: Misery after the hurricane

The storm was heading north-northeast at near 3 mph (6 kph). It was forecast to turn northeast or east-northeast and accelerate in the next couple of days, the Hurricane Center said in its last advisory on Tomas. Further weakening is expected, forecasters said.

In Haiti, a nation still grappling with the effects of a killer earthquake and a deadly cholera outbreak this year, Tomas ruined houses and turned some streets into rivers. Six people were also killed by the storm, according to the Haitian Civil Protection Authority.

January’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed 250,000 people and left 1 million more homeless. Many of those Haitians have been living in tent camps, and aid workers had been working in recent days to move the residents to safer housing, which was difficult to find.

Aid workers were already struggling to keep up with the cholera outbreak, which has killed 501 people since the first cases were reported in October. An additional 7,000 are hospitalized. The bacterial disease causes diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to deadly dehydration within hours.

In Leogane, west of Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, residents waded in knee-deep water after Tomas. Box trucks got stuck in water, said relief worker Roseann Dennery of Samaritan’s Purse.

While the flooding receded somewhat over the weekend, the threat of waterborne disease remained a concern.

“Samaritan’s Purse is moving quickly to set up cholera treatment centers in areas where there currently aren’t any, and where new cases are appearing as the bacteria continues to spread,” Dennery said.

Mudslides also remain a risk because many of the nation’s mountains have been stripped of vegetation, which means rain can flow downhill relatively unimpeded, said CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf.

“We could see mudslides a week after the storm has passed,” Wolf said.

Tomas has also dumped more than 10 inches of rain in the Dominican Republic. Earlier, it caused extensive damage and killed 12 people on St. Lucia and also caused damage on St. Vincent.


Watch CNN live in NZ on Sky channel 91


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