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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (Oct. 29) -- Tropical Storm Noel
brought fierce thunderstorms and flooding to the Dominican Republic
on Monday and officials said at least eight people had died.
At least three others people were reported missing as rains
continued to lash Hispaniola, the island the country shares with
Haiti, said Manuel Antonio Luna Paulino of the Dominican emergency
Noel was expected to drop as much as 20 inches of rain on
Hispaniola throughout the day before heading northwest toward the
Luna said many people were apparently caught off guard by the
ferocity of the rain.
At least five of the deaths were from drowning said Gesmin
Simon, a spokeswoman for the emergency services agency.
Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis said there were no
immediate reports of casualties in his country, but he urged people
to seek shelter and said airports would be closed throughout the
"It's very serious now," Alexis said at a news conference in
the presidential palace. "It's moving very slowly and dropping a
lot of rain."
Impoverished Haiti is prone to deadly flooding because of its
steep mountains and deforested hillsides, but damage reports are
often slow in reaching authorities in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
Floods earlier this month killed at least 37 and sent more than
4,000 people to shelters.
Mountainous terrain weakened the storm overnight, but Noel still
had sustained winds of about 45 mph as it passed near Haiti's
northwestern coast, according to the National Hurricane Center in
At 11 a.m. EDT, Noel's poorly organized center was about 80
miles east-southeast of Cuba's eastern tip and about 300 miles
southeast of the central Bahamas, forecasters said.
It was heading north-northwest at roughly 12 mph. A long-term
forecast has the storm passing through the Bahamas and gradually
turning east, away from the U.S. coastline. Associated Press writer Jonathan Katz in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
contributed to this report.