Friday, October 7, 2016

US to send Navy ship to aid hurricane-hit Haiti as death toll reaches 842

The United States announced it will send a Navy ship to Haiti, where Hurricane Matthew has claimed over 800 lives and caused catastrophic damage.

"The USS Mesa Verde has received an order to support the Southcom humanitarian effort in Haiti," A US official said Friday.

  •  Its 300 Marines will add to the 250 personnel and nine helicopters already ordered to deploy to Haiti.

A Reuters count of death tolls given by officials in Haiti put the number of fatalities at 842, as information began to emerge from remote areas previously cut off by the storm. The final storm toll in Haiti is expected to rise even higher, with mass destruction reported across the south of the country, the poorest in the Americas.

Matthew's torrential rain and winds of around 140 miles (230 kilometers) per hour destroyed more than 29,000 homes in Haiti's hard-hit Sud department alone, and displaced more than 20,000 people, the local authorities said.

Haiti's southern city of Jeremie suffered "complete destruction," with 80 percent of the buildings leveled, relief agencies said.

Some 350,000 people need assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The Mesa Verde is transporting Marine teams that specialize in medical-emergency assistance and reconstruction.

The vessel is also carrying three heavy-transport CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters and landing craft.

It left Norfolk, Virginia on Wednesday and had been waiting at sea for an order to deploy.

Before giving it the green light, Washington was gathering information about Haiti's needs as well as how the hurricane was progressing up the US East Coast after leaving the Caribbean.

Two more US military ships, the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and the hospital ship USNS Comfort, are also at sea, ready for possible deployment.

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