'Nicole' sparks deadly floods, slides in Jamaica

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - 4:17pm

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) -- Tropical Storm Nicole caused extensive flooding and mudslides Wednesday in Jamaica, killing at least two people, even as the drenching system moved north and dissipated over the Florida straits.
The outer bands of the storm hammered Jamaica, toppling bridges and knocking out power to thousands. Many streets were filled with gushing brown torrents of water, prompting Prime Minister Bruce Golding to urge people to stay indoors.
The storm, which had sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) earlier in the day, broke apart over the Atlantic, though the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami warned that there were still large areas of heavy rain.
Jamaican Information Minister Daryl Vaz said two people were confirmed dead but warned that the toll could be higher from the flash floods and mudslides.
Emergency shelters were opened for thousands of Jamaicans who live in ramshackle homes along gullies. Major hospitals were treating only emergency cases. Officials said about 30 percent of the power utility's customers were without power. Some bridges collapsed in the rushing water.
"All in all, there has been a lot of damage done to infrastructure," Vaz said. "It's a serious blow to the country."
Opposition leader Portia Simpson Miller, a former prime minister, said at least four children and three adults died when a shack built along a paved gully collapsed in St. Andrew parish. One boy's body had been retrieved.
In a rural area of St. Elizabeth parish, people told government officials that two farmers in the town of Flagaman were washed away by murky floodwaters and presumed dead. Another man was reportedly swept away while trying to cross rushing Hope River in Kingston.
Floods flattened fields of bananas, scallions and sweet pepper as the storm's outer edges raked the island.
The storm also soaked Cuba but no deaths were reported.
 

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