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    Rescuers struggle as Caribbean flood toll mounts

    PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) May 28, 2004

    An international rescue operation for Haiti and the Dominican Republic gathered pace as the death toll from flash floods rose sharply to around 1,500 dead and missing.

    "We have about 1,500 people dead or missing, but this is a toll that may rise," a spokeswoman for the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told a news conference in Geneva on Friday.

    The United Nations and other aid agencies were trying to get water and medical supplies to the worst hit towns, UN officials said. But bad weather held up efforts.

    On Thursday, the official toll in the Dominican Republic was 339 dead and at least 375 missing, mainly in the devastated town of Jimani. In Haiti, the official toll stood at 579 dead.

    National Emergency Commission spokesman Jose Luis German said Thursday that 329 were confirmed dead, 375 missing and 122 injured in Jimani, which was virtually wiped out by the flash floods in the early hours of Monday.