PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – A storm set off mudslides and flooding that killed at least 11 people in impoverished Haiti, officials said Tuesday.
Rains engulfed the capital for several hours Monday night, turning hilly streets into rivers and sweeping debris down denuded hillsides of Haiti's capital.
Motorists abandoned their cars. Women could be heard screaming for help as water pounded the supposedly temporary settlements that arose in Port-au-Prince after last year's powerful earthquake.
Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, director of Haiti's Civil Protection Department, told Radio Galaxie that 11 people drowned or died in mudslides. All but one of the deaths happened in the Port-au-Prince area.
Officials say they fear the hurricane season, which officially began last week, could exacerbate a cholera outbreak that already has killed 5,000 people.
Haiti's newly elected President Michel Martelly took to national television just before midnight to calm the nation as the storm was still passing over the city. "This message is to tell the population that I'm with you," the president said.
Martelly said the seaside slum of Cite Soleil flooded and walls toppled in the hills above Port-au-Prince. He ordered government construction workers to show up to work early Tuesday.
Debris and mud clogged major thoroughfares Tuesday, causing traffic jams throughout the capital.
Earlier rains prompted the government and international aid groups to evacuate dozens of families who lived near the Caribbean country's largest lake, Azuei, which had overflowed.