Hundreds of people are dead in Haiti as a result of the treacherous Hurricane Matthew, with the death toll reaching as high as 800 people, Reuters reported.
If the death toll is confirmed, Matthew would be the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Stan in 2005, which claimed more than 1,600 lives in Central America and Mexico, according to National Hurricane Center meteorologist Brenden Moses.
Matthew ripped through the tip of Haiti's western peninsula Tuesday with 145 mph winds and torrential rain, according to Reuters. Some 61,500 people were in shelters, officials told the news agency, after Matthew pushed the sea into coastal villages.
Aid agencies warned the death toll was likely to rise.
“What is most urgent now is to provide safe water to prevent disease, as well as food and essential supplies, ´said Jean Claude Fignole, program director for Oxfam in Haiti, in a statement Friday.
He said the international community needed to mobilize to support the Haitian people. “In the longer term, we fear a jump in cholera and malnutrition cases due to crop losses,” he said.
The United Kingdom said it was making an initial contribution of up to $6 million to help Haitians affected by the hurricane.
"The absolute priority right now is to reach those who are injured and provide them with water, sanitation, shelter and protection," said Priti Patel, the U.K.'s international development secretary, in a statement Friday.
Hurricane Matthew, a Category 2 storm, is battering the Florida coast on Friday bringing sustained winds up to 110 mph.
Several European Union member nations have offered their assistance to Haiti. A team of 11 EU civil protection experts from Denmark, France, Finland Romania and Sweden are deploying to the most affected zones today.
France, Spain and the United Kingdom have provided shelters, water-purification modules and other emergency equipment for flood management.
Christos Stylianides, the EU commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management stated, “In solidarity with the people of Haiti, the European Union has increased its emergency aid at this critical moment to save lives. The EU is also providing expertise to help the Haitians with temporary shelters, sanitation support services, drinking water and other sanitation equipment. I thank all the member nations for their help with the civil protection angle, who have coordinated the European response to natural catastrophes. Our thoughts are with those people most affected by the this disaster and the teams carrying out rescue work at this moment.“
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