At least 42 people were dead and 11 missing in Haiti after heavy rains at the weekend triggered flooding and landslides, civil protection officials said Monday.
The bad weather hit seven of the 10 departments in the country which is already plunged into a protracted humanitarian crisis fueled by gang violence, political collapse and economic stagnation.
According to the UN, the severe rains affected 37,000 people and displaced 13,400.
The town of Leogane, located 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of the capital Port-au-Prince, was particularly badly hit, with damage caused by three flooded rivers.
At least 20 people died there, according to Haitian officials.
“The residents are desperate. They have lost everything. The waters have ravaged their fields, washed away their livestock,” Leogane Mayor Ernson Henry told AFP.
Thousands of families were affected in the town, he said, stressing that the population urgently needed food, drinking water and medicine.
The floods caused extensive material damage across the country, destroying hundreds of homes and damaging several roads.
“Although it is not a hurricane or a tropical storm, the damage observed in the affected areas is considerable,” said Jean-Martin Bauer, UN coordinator of humanitarian action in Haiti.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry activated the National Emergency Operation Center in response.
The heavy toll highlights the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters and its failure to mitigate storm risk just as the hurricane season is about to begin.
Even before the floods, nearly half of Haiti’s population was in need of humanitarian assistance, a figure that has doubled in just five years, according to the UN.