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Death toll rises to 691 in Haiti

GONAIVES, Haiti: Blood swirled in knee-deep floodwaters as workers stacked bodies outside the hospital morgue yesterday. Carcasses of pigs, goats and dogs and pieces of smashed furniture floated in muddy streams that once were the streets of this battered city. The death toll across Haiti from the weekend deluges brought by Tropical Storm Jeanne was at 691, with some 600 of them in Gonaives, but officials said they expected to find more dead. Waterlines up to 10 feet high on Gonaivesí buildings marked the worst of the storm that sent water and mudslides gushing down denuded hills, destroying homes and crops in the Artibonite region that is Haiti's breadbasket. Floodwaters receded, but half of Haiti's third-largest city was still swamped with contaminated water up to two feet deep four days after Jeanne passed. Not a house in the city of 250,000 people escaped damage. The homeless sloshed through the streets carrying belongings on their heads, while people with houses that still had roofs tried to dry scavenged clothes.

"We're going to start burying people in mass graves," said Toussaint Kongo-Doudou, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti. Some victims were buried Monday. Flies buzzed around bloated corpses piled high at the city's three morgues, where the electricity was off as temperatures reached into the 90s. The stench of death hung over the city. Only about 30 of the 250 bodies at the morgue of the flood-damaged General Hospital have been identified, said Dr Daniel Rubens of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Many of the dead were children. "I lost my kids and there's nothing I can do," said Jean Estimable, whose 2-year-old daughter was killed. Another of his five children was missing and presumed dead. Dieufort Deslorges, spokesman for the civil protection agency, said he expected the death toll to rise as reports came in from outlying villages. He said some 250,000 people were homeless across the country, and the storm destroyed at least 4,000 homes. More than 1,000 people were missing, said Raoul Elysee, head of the Haitian Red Cross, which was trying desperately to find doctors to help. The international aid group CARE said 85 of its 200 workers in Gonaives were unaccounted for.

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700 Dead, 1,000 Missing from Haiti Flooding
Death toll rises to 691 in Haiti
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