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Haiti buries dead in mass graves as hurricane death toll rises to 1,000

The official death toll from the central civil protection agency is 336, a slower count because officials must visit each village to confirm the numbers. Photograph: (Reuters)

Reuters Port-au-Prince, Ouest Department, Haiti Oct 10, 2016, 07.05 AM (IST)

The number of people killed by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti has hit 1,000 as the country battles deaths from cholera in the devastated southwest.

The country has started burying some of its dead in mass graves, a government official said on Sunday, news agency Reuters reported.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the powerful hurricane slammed into Haiti on Tuesday with 145 mile-per-hour (233 kph) winds and torrential rains that left 1.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

Citing local officials, Reuters said 1,000 people were killed by the hurricane in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas.

The official death toll from the central civil protection agency is 336, a slower count because officials must visit each village to confirm the numbers.

Authorities had to start burying the dead in mass graves in Jeremie because the bodies were starting to decompose, said Kedner Frenel, the most senior central government official in the Grand'Anse region on Haiti's western peninsula, Reuters reported.

Mr Frenel said 522 people died in Grand'Anse alone.

A tally of deaths reported by mayors from 15 of 18 municipalities in Sud Department on the south side of the peninsula showed 386 people there.

The same tally showed 92 people were killed in the rest of the country.

According to Reuters, Mr Frenel said there was great concern about cholera spreading, and that authorities were focused on getting water, food, and medication to the thousands of people living in shelters.

Cholera causes severe diarrhea and can kill within hours if untreated. It is spread through contaminated water and has a short incubation period, which leads to rapid outbreaks.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)

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