The death toll from flooding in several Eastern Caribbean states has now risen to 18 and several other persons are still missing in the three most affected states - St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Lucia and Dominica.
A powerful weather system swept across the islands on Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving a trail of destruction and loss. Heavy and prolonged rainfall caused by a trough, with strong winds turning in a counter-clockwise direction, resulted in devastating flooding which damaged homes, collapsed bridges and triggered power outages.
In St. Vincent & The Grenadines, emergency rescue teams said they had recovered seven bodies, including those of a two-year-old boy and his 18-year-old sister.
Several communities remained cut-off on Thursday as Vincentians continue to count their human and material losses.
Unconfirmed reports said that the bodies of two more persons had been found and the search was continuing for at least two other people reported missing.
In Dominica, eight persons were reported to have died, while three persons were killed in St. Lucia. Previous reports had said five people had died in St. Lucia.
Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, is expected back in his country today after cutting short a visit to Europe.
Dr. Gonsalves, who had gone to Rome and met with Pope Francis, and was spending the Christmas holidays in London, will now return on Thursday, instead of Saturday.
This is how Dominica's Zee News reported the unfolding tragedy in that country:
Roseau: Officials in Dominica say that eight people have died in heavy rains and floods that have pelted the lush Caribbean island.
The government's National Emergency Management Organization says that one of those who died is an 18-year-old college student. One man is reported missing.
Dozens of homes and at least two hotels have been evacuated because of flooding. Several roads have been closed by mudslides. Most of the damage has been just outside the capital, Roseau. The storm came as the small island was crowded with holiday tourists. There has also been extensive flooding and landslides on the nearby island of St. Lucia, where police say a man died when a wall fell on him.
In response to the occurrence in the Eastern Caribbean, José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) has announced that he will shortly convene a meeting with other agencies within the Inter-American system.
Mr. Insulza said this would be to mobilise a response to the debilitating effects of what is becoming known as the Christmas Day rains in the southern Eastern Caribbean.
He expressed deep sorrow at the loss of life and severe damage caused by unseasonably heavy rainfall over the last 48 hours in Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
He further expressed, on behalf of the OAS, condolences to the governments and people of the affected countries on their loss and assured them that the Organization stands in solidarity with them at this very difficult time.
The OAS Secretary General stated that the unseasonable nature of the heavy rains and flooding raises once again the impact of climate change in the Caribbean region.