| Tropical Storm Olga kills 22 in Caribbean
| Friday, December 14, 2007
|SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (Reuters) - The death toll from Tropical Storm Olga neared two dozen on Thursday after flash floods killed at least 19 people in the Dominican Republic, where 35,000 people were forced to flee their homes, Dominican officials said.
The rare December tropical storm, which disintegrated into a mass of thunderstorms late on Wednesday, killed two people, a woman and a 3-year-old boy, Haiti, which shares the Caribbean island Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.
Olga's torrential rains also were blamed earlier for mudslides that killed a man in Puerto Rico.
The remnants of the year's 15th tropical storm skirted Jamaica to the north, raced through the Cayman Islands and were expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico between Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Saturday.
The majority of the Dominican deaths -- at least 17 -- were people drowned when a river burst its banks and flooded parts of Santiago, the Dominican Republic's second-largest city, 110 miles north of Santo Domingo, the capital.
The Yaque del Norte River rose rapidly on Wednesday morning after the release of water from the nearby Tavera dam, local officials said.
Rushing waters submerged and flipped cars, and sent panicked residents to treetops and rooftops. Some died as the flood waters collapsed their homes while other were dragged away by the water.
"The river grew suddenly and began to flood houses. Some people could get out, but others were swept away with their homes and all," said Ernesto Bencosme, a resident of Bella Vista, a neighborhood built on the banks of the river.
Helicopters plucked victims from rooftops and police moved hundreds of prisoners from a flooded jail to an army fortress.
Olga swept away three bridges, damaged 6,896 houses and cut off residents of 76 village, the country's Emergency Operations Center said. There were widespread power outages.
The center warned that flooding would continue with heavy rainfall forecast for the next 24 hours.
Olga was the second storm to hit the Dominican Republic in just over a month. In late October, Noel killed at least 89 people, left 42 missing and caused millions of dollars in damages to roads, farming and power and water systems.
Olga formed in the Virgin Islands on Monday, 10 days after the official end of the six-month Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season. Tropical storms feed on warm seas, so December storms are unusual.
It was the 17th named storm to form in the region in the month of December since record-keeping began in 1851, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
|posted by Moderator Londen time 10:15 AM