Port-au-Prince: Steady rains toppled hillsides and turned streets into rivers in the Haitian capital over the weekend, leaving at least 12 people dead and three missing, civil protection officials said on Monday.
Storms falling on the mountains that ring the capital sent cascades into the pitch-black downtown, where trucks left boat-like wakes as they forded boulevards.
Eight people were killed when water rushed over a sand quarry on the capital`s western edge, sending a sheet of slurry roaring through their quake-damaged homes below, said Nadine Lochard, civil protection coordinator for the department that includes Port-au-Prince.
Such quarries, used for cheap concrete to build homes in Port-au-Prince`s ever-expanding slums, scar Haiti`s deforested hillsides. Many of the homes destroyed in the mudslide were made of the brittle, sand-based concrete from similar quarries.
Concrete made from the hillside sand was made illegal by Haiti`s government after thousands of homes made of the material fell in the January 12 earthquake, but it is still used.
Lochard said the bodies of two children — an 11-month-old and a 2-year-old — were found drowned elsewhere in the capital.
Two more people were killed when mud slid into a quake-refuge camp in Carrefour, farther along the same western ridge. A journalist who reached the camp Monday said dozens of families were repairing their tarps. The rocky dirt under other post-quake settlements, home to an estimated 1.3 million people, turned into spongy mud and then lakes.
Lochard had no information about the three people reported as missing.
Residents along the ridge said there had been other fatal, unreported mudslides in the last week.
Aid groups and officials overseeing Haiti`s post-earthquake reconstruction have been on guard for heavy rains since the January 12 disaster. Canals were cleared and drainage ditches dug around some of the better-managed camps.
But even without a direct hit from a hurricane this year, at least 25 rain-related deaths have been confirmed over the last month in southern Haiti, including the quake zone.
The national meteorology centre issued flash-flood warnings across Haiti`s southern peninsula through Tuesday, which extends west from Port-au-Prince.