The number of people killed by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti rose to at least 842 on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, as information trickled in from remote areas that were cut off by the storm, officials said. With fatalities rising quickly, different government agencies and committees differed on the total death toll. A Reuters count of deaths reported by civil protection and local officials confirmed 842 people had lost their lives.
Haiti's central civil protection agency, which takes longer to collate numbers, said 271 people died as Matthew smashed through the tip of Haiti's western peninsula on Tuesday with 145 mile-per-hour (233 kph) winds and torrential rain. Some 61,500 people were in shelters, the agency said. The storm pushed the sea into fragile coastal villages, some of which are only now being contacted.
At least three towns reported dozens of fatalities, including the inland community of Chantal, whose deputy mayor said 90 people perished, without giving details. At least 89 more were missing, many of them in the Grand'Anse region area in southern Haiti. Coastal town Les Anglais lost "several dozen" people, the central government representative in the region, Louis-Paul Raphael told Reuters.
Les Anglais was the first place in Haiti that Matthew reached, as a powerful Category 4 storm before it moved north, lost strength and lashed central Florida on Friday. Hours before the hurricane landed in Haiti, Les Anglais' mayor told Reuters residents were fleeing for their lives as the ocean rushed into their homes. With cellphone networks down and roads flooded by sea and river water, aid has been slow to reach towns and villages around the peninsula. Instead, locals have been helping each other.
"My house wasn't destroyed, so I am receiving people, like it's a temporary shelter," said Bellony Amazan in the town of Cavaillon, where around a dozen people died. Amazan said she had no food to give people. "I have nothing, my hands are empty," said Kimberly Janvier in the town, where dozens of residents staged an angry protest on Thursday demanding more government help.