The toll of the dead and missing rose to more than 3,300 on Friday, nearly two weeks after floods that raged through Haiti and the Dominican Republic obliterated entire communities.
In Haiti, the official death toll rose to 1,191 and 1,484 “disappeared” as aid workers reached more isolated villages.
With 669 dead and missing on the Dominican side, the toll rose to at least 3,344 from deadly torrents of water and mudslides that enveloped the south-central border area of Hispaniola island.
Aid workers said hundreds of victims, washed away in floodwaters or buried in mudslides, likely will never be found.
“The death toll is higher than expected, and surely it will continue to rise,” said Marko Kokic, a representative of the International Federation of Red Cross Services. “There are 1,500 missing, and we don’t expect to be finding any survivors.”
Red Cross workers found 17 bodies Thursday as they took a boat through the southern Haitian town of Mapou, still submerged following the May 24 floods. In areas buried by mud and rock, bodies are unrecoverable, Kokic said.
In the neighboring Dominican Republic, the official body count stood at 395 and 274 missing. But journalists witnessed the burial of about 80 bodies not included in that total.
Many decomposing corpses were hurriedly buried in mass graves and wherever they were found — some before they could be counted, said Radhames Lora Salcedo, head of the Dominican Emergency Commission.
Even the official death toll from Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency includes 195 people who are missing and declared dead. Some villages were entirely swept away, leaving only riverbeds of boulders and debris where houses once stood.
Thousands of homes lost
The floods destroyed about 2,400 houses on the Haitian side and 220 on the Dominican side, and they damaged 2,200 more. Crops were destroyed, along with pigs and goats.
Among the living, thousands remain in desperate need. Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency estimated that 31,000 Haitians were affected by one of the worst natural disasters to strike the Caribbean.
The Red Cross said more than 6,000 families needed food and shelter between the hardest-hit Haitians towns of Mapou and Fond Verrettes, about 13 miles apart. Some of those live in four villages that aid workers say are at risk of more landslides and floods if heavy rains return.
Europe promises aid
The European Union pledged $2.4 million Friday in emergency aid to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. That was besides $6.4 million in humanitarian aid sent last month to alleviate the economic and political crisis after the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Feb. 29 .
Britain, meanwhile, said it was sending an additional $918,736 to help repair roads and charter helicopters to deliver aid. The United States released $200,000 Thursday to pay for chartering helicopters and rebuilding roads.