05 October 2016: Inmarsat-sponsored aid agency Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) is on the ground helping relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Matthew – the most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean in nearly a decade.
An emergency team arrived in the Dominican Republic last night, and local partners in Haiti, who have been trained in disaster response by TSF for the past five years, have been mobilised. A total of 17 IsatPhone Pro satellite phones and seven BGAN terminals are being used to help co-ordinate international rescue efforts.
Hurricane Matthew brought winds of 145mph (230km/h), torrential rain and tidal surges to the region. Terrestrial and mobile communications have been knocked out, and the collapse of a bridge cut off the only link between Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and the south of the country. Damage in the port town of Les Cayes is described as “catastrophic”.
The TSF team is collaborating with Haiti’s Civil Protection Department as well as the National Emergency Operations Centre in Port-au-Prince.
Haiti is one of the world’s poorest countries, with many people still living in flimsy housing following a devastating earthquake in 2010. At least 10,000 residents were reported to have fled to shelters as the hurricane approached.
After hitting Cuba, Hurricane Matthew is predicted to reach the US east coast later this week. It is the region’s most powerful hurricane since Felix in 2007, which destroyed 9,000 homes and affected 40,000 people, killing at least 130.