PORT-AU-PRINCE – The death toll from Hurricane Matthew in Haiti has climbed to 264, authorities in this desperately poor Caribbean nation said on Thursday.
Emergency officials in Sud province, which bore the brunt of the storm’s impact, provided the new fatality figure just hours after Interior Minister François Anick Joseph cited a provisional death toll of 108.
Matthew, the most powerful hurricane to strike the Caribbean since 2007, made landfall in southwestern Haiti on Tuesday as a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 230 kph (145 mph).
A partial evaluation indicates that more than 20,000 homes were severely damaged, Joseph said, describing the storm’s impact as a “catastrophe.”
The search for additional casualties continues, authorities said.
Haiti’s interim president, Jocelerme Privert, said that government ministers would be deployed to affected areas to provide aid to those affected by the hurricane.
“My heart is with all the victims. We want to say to the victims that the government will do all it can to assist them,” he added.
Matthew forced the postponement of general elections in Haiti that had been scheduled for Sunday.
“For now, we cannot guarantee the distribution of (election) materials in the entire country,” the chairman of the Provisional Electoral Council, Leopord Berlanger, told a press conference in the capital on Wednesday.
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.