Tropical Storm Isaac on course to strike Haiti

Tropical Storm Isaac gained strength Friday as it roared towards Haiti, where it was to make landfall later in the day, threatening survivors of a devastating 2010 earthquake.

Rains had already begun lashing southern Haiti, and US forecasters said the storm was expected to be near hurricane strength when the eye makes landfall in Haiti, where people are still living in makeshift shelters.

"Isaac strengthens a little more... The center of Isaac should make landfall in Haiti this evening, move near or over southeastern Cuba on Saturday," the US-based National Hurricane Center said in its 2100 GMT bulletin.

"Little change in strength is likely before landfall," it said.

Some 400,000 people still live in temporary tent camps following the earthquake that killed some 250,000 people and devastated Port-au-Prince.

Long lines formed outside supermarkets in the Haitian capital as people filled stores to stock up on supplies.

Those still without proper shelter after the quake "remain amongst the most vulnerable, should the storm hit the city," said Jean-Claude Mukadi, Haiti's national director for the humanitarian group World Vision.

"Without a stable sanitation system or permanent housing, heavy rain and wind can create much larger problems like disease from water contamination."

President Michel Martelly, who cancelled a trip to Japan, earlier took to the airwaves with safety advice and to urge Haitians to follow the directions of civil defense personnel.

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said the whole government, including security forces, has mobilized to prepare for the storm. "We are going to work with our international partners to coordinate response actions," Lamothe said.

A hurricane watch was in effect for Haiti, and a tropical storm warning was in effect for the neighboring Dominican Republic and eastern Cuba. A tropical storm watch was in effect for the Florida Keys and parts of south Florida.

The Haiti director for Oxfam, another humanitarian group, said that his group was preparing clean water and hygiene kits to help prevent the spread of cholera and other water-borne diseases.

"Nothing short of a miracle can keep people safe from this kind of storm when their only shelter is a tent," said Oxfam's Andrew Pugh.

"Haiti's disaster preparedness and response capacities have improved since the earthquake, but much remains to be done to help the poorest people cope with hurricane-strength threats," he said.

At 2100 GMT, Isaac was gathering strength and speed some 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Port-au-Prince, the NHC said.

Its maximum sustained winds were clocked at 100 kilometers per hour as it moved in a northwest direction at 26 kilometers per hour, it said. The storm could dump up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) of rain on Hispaniola.

"These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the NHC said.

After striking Haiti and southeastern Cuba, home to the US naval base and "war on terror" prison at Guantanamo Bay, Isaac was due to head Sunday for the Florida Keys off the southern tip of the United States.

In Cuba, the government declared a state of alert in the island's six eastern provinces, where nearly five million people live.

Local authorities "must understand the possible impact of the intense rain on dams, canals and rivers," the Cuban civil defense office said, warning of blocked water drainage systems and flooded roads.

Cuba's civil defense system was set up to resist a feared US military invasion but has proved effective at evacuating people and saving lives during past hurricanes.

Isaac could reach Florida just in time for the Republican Party's National Convention.

Tens of thousands of people from around the country will descend on Tampa for four days for the formal nomination of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to challenge President Barack Obama in the November 6 election.

City officials have urged residents to prepare for the worst, and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus has expressed concern about the storm but insisted the show would go on.

In the Gulf of Mexico, oil and gas operators braced for the storm, with BP evacuating its Thunder Horse platform, the world's largest offshore production and drilling facility.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Filipino, Vietnamese troops play games on Spratly island

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Filipino and Vietnamese troops played football and tug-of-war to foster camaraderie on a Philippine-held island in the South China Sea, where territorial rifts have escalated as China builds up islands there. …

  • Philippine, Vietnamese troops play soccer and sing on disputed island

    By Manuel Mogato MANILA (Reuters) - Vietnamese and Philippine troops played soccer and sang karaoke on a South China Sea island on Wednesday in a sign of the growing security ties between the two Southeast Asian nations most at odds with Beijing over the contested waterway. Cooperation has blossomed between Hanoi and Manila since they shelved decades of enmity over their competing claims in the Spratly archipelago to try to counter China, whose creation of artificial islands in the region …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Fall on renewed U.S. rate hike concerns

    BANGKOK, May 27 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets tumbled on Wednesday as investors resumed selling on expectations of an interest rate hike in the U.S. sooner rather than later, derailing Philippine ... …

  • Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute
    Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute

    As US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Regan began its journey to Asian waters amid China’s power flexing in the region, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin would try to hear directly from his US counterpart how far America is willing to go to aid its long-time ally against China’s threatening moves in disputed waters. Gazmin flew to Hawaii last Monday to attend ceremonies for the turnover of leadership of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) from Admiral Samuel Locklear to Admiral Harry …

  • Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level
    Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level

    The water level of Angat Dam in Bulacan yesterday fell below the 180-meter critical level for irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said. PAGASA said the dam’s water level further dropped to 179.98 meters as of 6 a.m. yesterday from 180.2 meters on Monday. The priority is the domestic consumption in Metro Manila, according to PAGASA. …

  • PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid
    PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid

    The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) reported yesterday that an estimated P3-billion charity fund has been allocated by Congress to the agency to provide medical assistance to indigent patients and also give funds to other government offices including the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Crop Insurance Program. …

  • Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila
    Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila

    In this photo by Bullit Marquez, a demolition crew begins to tear down a squatters' community at suburban Caloocan city, north of Manila, Philippines. Population growth and the lack of economic opportunities in rural areas have driven millions of Filipinos into the squatters' colonies that dot the sprawling metropolitan area in and around Manila. Most of the land they occupy is privately owned, and clearing the dwellings often results in violence. The landowner had offered about $1,344 in …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Mostly down; Thai shares near 2-week low

    BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - Most sharemarkets in Southeast Asia fell on Tuesday with the Thai index ending at a near two-week low and the Philippines touching a near four-week low after trade data while ... …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options