PORT-AU-PRINCE – Haiti’s southern peninsula remains cut off from the rest of the country a day after Hurricane Matthew slammed that destitute Caribbean nation as a Category 4 storm, causing at least nine deaths.
The government on Wednesday was still unable to establish contact with several southern towns that were severely affected by the hurricane and thus has not yet been able to quantify the damage.
Emergency management officials, meanwhile, said the death toll had risen to nine after four bodies were found in the southern town of Cavaellon.
Matthew, which currently is listed as a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kph), also has left 10 people injured, one missing and 14,000 homeless in Haiti.
The hurricane was continuing to pound that Caribbean nation with rain, prompting authorities to maintain a red level alert nationwide due to concerns about more flooding and mudslides, particularly in the south.
Access by land from Port-au-Prince to Haiti’s southern region has been cut off due to a collapse of a major bridge, while some areas of the south have been without television and Internet service for more than 24 hours.
More than 200 homes were destroyed in the towns of Pestel, Dame Marie and Les Anglais, all located in southwestern Haiti, the region hardest hit by the fifth hurricane of the Atlantic season, emergency management officials said.
The hurricane struck as Haitians were preparing to go to the polls on Sunday for general elections, but the country’s Provisional Electoral Council said Wednesday the vote would have to be postponed because of the hurricane.
“For now, we cannot guarantee the distribution of (election) materials in the entire country,” council chairman Leopord Berlanger told a press conference in the capital.
The new date for the election will be announced next week, he said.
Haitians went to the polls last October to choose a new president, but those elections were voided due to irregularities.
Matthew lashed far-eastern Cuba on Tuesday and currently is “bearing down on the Bahamas and aiming toward Florida,” the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday in its latest public advisory.