Hurricane Noel churns north toward Canada
Hurricane Noel on Friday churned over the Atlantic Ocean on a northerly track to Canada after battering the Caribbean where it killed at least 122 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
It is expected to slam into Nova Scotia over the weekend still packing powerful winds, but no longer bearing the characteristics of a tropical cyclone.
Before it even strengthened from a tropical storm to a hurricane, Noel went on a deadly rampage through the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
Noel left in its wake floodwaters that hampered the rescue of people in the Dominican Republic, where at least 79 people were killed, with 43 more reported missing and 65 000 evacuated from their homes.
Authorities used helicopters to deliver emergency supplies to areas cut off by floodwaters.
Torrents of water smashed several bridges, while authorities reported that 664 homes were destroyed and a further 15 600 were damaged.
The United States said Friday it would provide $600 000 for purchase and transport of shelter materials and water to the Dominican Republic, while Britain has deployed a Royal Navy vessel and helicopters to the Carribean to help with the relief operation.
The European Commission also announced a €1,5-million relief package for the Dominican Republic, and Canada has pledged $535 000 for both the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
In impoverished Haiti, officials on Friday said the death toll rose to 43, while 15 people were missing.
A total of 4 850 houses were damaged and 1 075 completely destroyed, while many crops were lost to floods and mudslides.
Cuba was also hit hard, but reported no fatalities. Following its Caribbean rampage, the storm drenched the north-western islands of the Bahamas on Thursday as it barrelled over the Atlantic Ocean.
Canada, meanwhile, was battening down all hatches as Noel drew closer to its shores.
“Hurricane Noel is expected to become an intense post-tropical storm over the next 24 hours ... it is expected to carry hurricane force winds” as it tracks across western Nova Scotia late on Saturday into Sunday, said the Canadian Hurricane Centre.
By late on Friday, the hurricane was about 725km west of Bermuda packing winds of 130km/h, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre said. - Sapa-AFP