SAN JUAN – Puerto Rican authorities raised on Thursday the death toll from Hurricane Maria to 12 after eight bodies were found in the municipality of Toa Baja.
The mayor of Toa Baja, Bernardo Marquez, said the victims had drowned after Lake La Plata reservoir’s floodgates opened.
Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing “catastrophic” winds and rains which have left thousands on the island without power.
The National Hurricane Center reported on Thursday night that storm surges and flooding of up to 8 inches could still be expected in Puerto Rico.
Maria was “in no hurry” as it slowly approached the Turks and Caicos islands to north of Hispaniola, which is home to the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Although the storm did not hit the island directly, it did bring “torrential rains and dangerous high waves” and maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (205 km/h) along the north coast.
Three people were killed on Thursday in northern Haiti due to the Category 3 hurricane, according to relief officials.
Civil Protection director Jerry Chandler told EFE that a 45-year-old man drowned trying to cross a river in the community of Limbe, in the north of country while two other people were killed in Cornillon, but the exact causes of death had not yet been determined.
Haitians were still recovering from Hurricane Irma, which barreled through the Caribbean two weeks ago, with thousands being housed in temporary shelters.