Rare Tornado Hits Haiti, Injuring Dozens and Leaving Hundreds More Homeless

LEOGANE, HAITI - JUNE 05: Residents clean up damaged clothes in the town after flooding in
Guerinault Louis/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A rare tornado struck the northern Haitian community of Bassin-Bleu on Tuesday, injuring more than 50 people and leaving about 300 homeless, according to the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs.

Emergency response operations for the tornado continued through Thursday morning, and local officials warned of major disruptions to transportation and power in the area. Local officials said they might impose curfews, especially if more severe weather occurs.

U.N. officials and local media said ten of the reported injuries were serious enough to require hospitalization. Heavy rains sweeping through much of Haiti hindered rescue efforts and could lead to floods or landslides, adding to the many woes of the troubled Caribbean nation.

Flooding could, in turn, spark an outbreak of diseases, such ass cholera, which has killed hundreds of thousands of Haitians over the years. The country was pronounced cholera-free by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in February 2022 after three years without a confirmed case, but then a new outbreak occurred in October 2022.

The people left homeless by the Bassin-Bleu tornado will join more than 360,000 people who have already been displaced in Haiti, mostly by rampaging gang violence in the tortured capital city of Port-au-Prince. In fact, local officials said many of the injured were people who had already been displaced from neighboring communities by gang violence.


People walk past burning tires during a protest against Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on February 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

Haiti has more than its share of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and the aforementioned flooding, landslides, and disease outbreaks, but tornado activity is uncommon.

Bassin-Bleu Mayor Antony Manigat said the tornado, which was powerful enough to knock over trees, smash cars, and fling a huge volume of debris into the air, was unprecedented in his experience.

“I had never seen that in my life. It was a rain of metal sheets in the air,” he told the Haitian Times on Wednesday.

“We did not expect such a strong wind accompanied by rain to cause all this damage,” said Haitian Hydrometeorological Unit Chief Chrisnette Saint-Georges.

“It is the first time in my life that I have witnessed such a whirlwind in the commune of Bassin-Bleu,” said Dominique Pierre, administrator of the nearby Hospital Bon Samaritain.

Manigat pleaded for urgent relief assistance, including food and water for the many displaced persons huddled in the town hall and another property he personally owns. 


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