Source Pravda.Ru

Storm Alpha kills one, likely to crack down Dominican Republic

Tropical Storm Alpha pounded Haiti and the Dominican Republic with torrential rains and gusty winds Sunday, sending rivers crashing over their banks, washing away homes and tossing debris into the streets. At least one person was killed. Alpha formed south of the Dominican Republic on Saturday, becoming the record-breaking 22nd named storm of the 2005 Atlantic season. It rumbled ashore near the southern Dominican town of Barahona with 50 mph (85 kmh) winds, dousing the region with heavy showers.

The storm was later downgraded to a tropical depression after passing over the mountainous zone near the Dominican border with Haiti. It was expected to move into the open Atlantic by Monday after brushing the southeastern Bahamas.

In Haiti, at least 23 homes were washed away when a rain-swollen river overflowed its banks and flooded a neighborhood in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Carrefour, said Katleen Monpoint of Haiti's civil protection agency. A resident died after being electrocuted when their house was swept away, Monpoint said. She couldn't say if the victim was a man or a woman.

Residents of Carrefour said they called authorities for help but no one came.

"I've lost everything," said a sobbing Rolande Bruno as she pointed to the lone standing wall from her simple concrete home, which was dangling over a ravine. "No one had warned us of anything, but we're not stupid. When the water started rising fast, we left for safety."

Another river overflowed its banks in the southern town of Jacmel, flooding some areas and forcing an unknown number of residents into shelters, said civil protection director Maria Alta Jean-Baptiste.

"The population there is facing big difficulties. We have begun evacuations," she said.

In the capital, the airport was closed for several hours because of heavy rain, which turned main streets into muddy streams and tossed piles of trash and basketball-sized stones into the road. Cars and buses slowly forded through brown, axle-deep water on the main road to the south of the city, according to the AP.

At 11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT), the poorly defined center of the depression was about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas and moving toward the northwest at nearly 21 mph (33 kph). Maximum sustained winds were nearly 35 mph (55 kmh).

Heavy rain was reported throughout the Dominican Republic and authorities had ordered the evacuation of some 30,000 people from areas prone to flooding, said Jose Luis German, a spokesman for the country's Emergency Operations Committee. About 1,000 people were in shelters.

T.E.

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