HAITI-CARIBBEAN-WEATHER-HURRICANE

Haiti Officials Postpone Election Amid Destruction by Hurricane

Authorities in Haiti have postponed the presidential election, initially scheduled for October 9, amid destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew in the southwestern part of the country.

Officials with the Haitian Electoral Council made the announcement on Wednesday, without specifying a new date for the election.

“In the southern region, we already know that many buildings have lost their roofs and some of them were going to be voting centers,” said Leopold Berlanger, the council’s president.

Poll workers may also be among the victims or those left homeless by the hurricane, he added.

Haiti has been convulsed by political turmoil since the first round of presidential election last October, when authorities canceled the election results, citing massive fraud and other irregularities.

The presidential election in the Caribbean country will see 27 candidates vying to become Michel Martelly’s successor. Martelly left office in February without a replacement.

Jocelerme Privert was elected by the Haitian parliament as interim president, but his 120-day mandate ended in June, leaving the country in a power vacuum since then.

According to a latest report by Haiti’s Interior Ministry, the powerful Hurricane Matthew, packing up gusts of winds at 230 kph in some areas, has claimed the lives of at least 10 people, a toll that may rise as contacts are re-established with devastated regions.

“It’s a very partial toll because we are still receiving information we must take the time to confirm,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Guillaume Albert, adding that two people were reported missing.

Described as the Caribbean’s worst storm in nearly a decade, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti has so far flooded dozens of towns, leaving some 80 percent of homes destroyed and nearly 15,000 people displaced.

The storm has also alarmed people in the United States, likely posing a threat to Florida by late Thursday and other areas of the East Coast afterward.

Coastal residents in Florida have been urged to brace for the possibility of a direct hit and stack up three days’ worth of food, water and medicine. An evacuation order was also issued in South Carolina, forcing one million people to evacuate the coastal area.

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