Haiti Hurricane Matthew death toll soars over 800
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Haiti Hurricane Matthew death toll soars over 800

US Navy sends ship carrying Marines specializing in medical and emergency assistance; thousands displaced

Saint Anne church lays totally destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Camp Perrin, a district of Les Cayes, Haiti, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (AP/Dieu Nalio Chery)
Saint Anne church lays totally destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Camp Perrin, a district of Les Cayes, Haiti, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (AP/Dieu Nalio Chery)

The death toll in Haiti from Hurricane Matthew reached over 800 Friday, Reuters reported, citing civil protections and local officials. Information from more remote areas in the country cut off by the storm trickled in, it said, revealing hundreds more dead than the official death toll of nearly 300, with thousands displaced. An outbreak of cholera has been reported.

Haiti’s central civil protection agency said over 60,000 people are in shelters as a result of the hurricane, with mass destruction reported across the south of the country, the poorest in the Americas.

Some 350,000 people need assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Matthew’s torrential rain and winds of around 140 miles (230 kilometers) per hour destroyed more than 29,000 homes in Haiti’s hard-hit Sud department alone, and displaced more than 20,000 people, the local authorities said.

Haiti’s southern city of Jeremie suffered “complete destruction,” with 80 percent of the buildings leveled, relief agencies said.

The United States said Friday that it is sending a Navy ship transporting Marine teams that specialize in medical-emergency assistance and reconstruction, to aid Haiti.

“The USS Mesa Verde has received an order to support the Southcom humanitarian effort in Haiti,” the official said. Its 300 Marines will add to the 250 personnel and nine helicopters already ordered to deploy to Haiti.

The vessel is also carrying three heavy-transport CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters and landing craft.

It left Norfolk, Virginia on Wednesday and had been waiting at sea for an order to deploy.

Before giving it the green light, Washington was gathering information about Haiti’s needs as well as how the hurricane was progressing up the US East Coast after leaving the Caribbean.

Two more US military ships, the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and the hospital ship USNS Comfort, are also at sea, ready for possible deployment.

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