Haitians are bracing for more rain after torrential downpours left 13 dead

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Heavy rains are expected to continue across Haiti on Friday, the national weather service said, after at least 13 people were killed and thousands of homes damaged in the north.

“If you live by a river, canyon or mountainside, leave,” the Haitian civil protection agency warned.

Nearly the entire country is at risk of “frequent and intensifying” to “significant” thunderstorms through Friday evening, the weather service added, warning of flash flooding.

Outside the northern town of Cap-Haïtien, rain caused a landslide that collapsed several houses and killed 12 people, Haiti’s disaster agency said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

More than 2,000 homes were flooded as water overflowed and clogged sewers.

The north is Haiti’s breadbasket, although gangs have tightened their grip on the region in recent years, damaging or stealing crops and demanding bribes from farmers.

The disaster agency noted “significant losses” of livestock in early reports from the north, while farms were also “destroyed” in the country’s central region.

Moderate to heavy rainfall was expected to continue through the weekend, especially in the north and south, the weather service said.

The destruction comes at a time of political turmoil for Haiti, with a newly installed transition council suffering from infighting and gangs increasing violence in the Caribbean country in recent months.

(Reporting by Harold Isaac in Port-au-Prince and Kylie Madry in Mexico City; Editing by Sandra Maler)