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1 dead, 4 missing as flooding hits Haiti

February 29, 2016

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – One person died and four others were missing in flooding that hit Haiti, leaving at least 9,600 houses in the deeply impoverished Caribbean country underwater, officials said Monday.

The floods were caused by heavy rainfall Sunday linked to a cold front.

One person was killed while crossing a river in the southwestern department of Grand-Anse, civil defense spokesman Edgar Celestin told AFP. The person accompanying the deceased has not been located and three fishermen in the same region have also been reported missing, he added.

Problems linked to the downpours were also reported in the city of Cap-Haïtien on the northern coast, where some 8,100 houses were flooded.

Another 1,530 residences were submerged in the community of Limonade some 15 kilometers (10 miles) to the east, according to Bernadin Francisque, a spokesman for the regional civil defense unit.

An emergency plan setting up shelters was not activated, meaning that people affected by the flooding have had to seek refuge elsewhere.

The flooding comes just two weeks after Cap-Haïtien saw similar fallout from several hours of rain.

Haitian cities are particularly vulnerable to flooding because efforts to reduce the risk are practically nonexistent.

More than half the country’s population lives in cities but the absence of urban planning has led to urban sprawl, with some structures housing the poor built without permits.

Sunday’s bad weather has locals worried since the country’s first rainy season doesn’t usually start until April, lasting into June. A second season traditionally takes place between August and October.

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