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Video: Destruction in Haiti's southwest like a 'war zone’

Hector Retamal, AFP | A resident of Jeremie sits in the wreckage of her home on October 7, 2016.

The town of Jeremie in the extreme southwest of Haiti was one of the worst hit by Hurricane Matthew, which claimed more than 800 lives on the Caribbean Island this week.

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FRANCE 24 reporter Martin Pollard described the scene as “akin to a war zone”.

“Only 20 percent of homes in the town of Jeremie are still intact,” he said. 

The town of 30,000 residents had been completely cut off after Hurricane Matthew smashed through Haiti's western peninsula on Tuesday, with 145 mile-per-hour (235 kph) winds and torrential rain. Several days later, aid was only just beginning to trickle through. 

Maarten Boute, Director of the Digicel telecommunications company, was in Jeremie to try to get the phones working again.

"Hurricane Hazel - which hit in 1954, was the last major cyclone they had here. All the elders of the city said this one was more devastating,” he told FRANCE 24.

Some 61,500 people were in shelters, officials said, after the storm pushed the sea into fragile coastal villages, some of which were only now being contacted.

Across southwestern Haiti, clinics overflowed with patients whose wounds including broken bones that had not been treated since the storm hit.

Food was scarce and at least seven people died of cholera, likely because of flood water mixing with sewage.

The devastating storm has highlighted the misery of underdevelopment in Haiti, which is still recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake.

"In 2010 I was living in Port-au-Prince, when my home was destroyed. For us it's as if the nightmare has begun again," resident Michael Lives told FRANCE 24.

The US has announced that it is sending a military vessel to Haiti to help with the emergency, while the International Red Cross has appealed for 6.9 million dollars to provide medicine, shelters, water and sanitation assistance to those in the hardest hit areas of the south west.

“At least 350,000 people are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance but we expect that number to go up as we get more assessment, information back from our teams,” said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Video: Hurricane devastates port city of Les Cayes

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