December 14, 2007 / 5:47 PM / 12 years ago

Tropical Storm Olga kills 38 in Caribbean

By Manuel Jimenez

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, Dec 14 (Reuters) - The discovery of the bodies of 12 Haitians who drowned on a farm in the Dominican Republic raised the death toll from Tropical Storm Olga to at least 38, authorities said on Friday.

The bodies were found near Castanuelas, a village near the Dominican border with Haiti, said civil defense officer Juan Nunez.

"We think the Haitians had no documents and hid themselves when we ordered the evacuation of the flooded areas. They drowned," he said.

The rare December tropical storm, which disintegrated into a mass of thunderstorms late on Wednesday, killed two people, a woman and a 3-year-old boy, in Haiti. Olga’s torrential rains were also blamed for mudslides that killed a man in Puerto Rico.

At least 23 people drowned when the Yaque del Norte River burst its banks and flooded parts of Santiago, the Dominican Republic’s second-largest city, 110 miles (176 km) north of Santo Domingo, the capital.

Flood waters had subsided by Friday, allowing some of the 35,000 people who fled their homes to return.

The flooding destroyed 6,000 hectares (14,820 acres) of banana plantations and 4,000 hectares of plantain crops, causing losses of $40 million in export revenues, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Olga was the second storm to hit the Dominican Republic in just over a month. In late October, Noel killed at least 89 people, left 42 missing and caused millions of dollars in damage to roads, farming and power and water systems.

The year’s 15th tropical storm formed in the Virgin Islands on Monday, 10 days after the official end of the six-month Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season. Tropical storms feed on warm seas, so December storms are unusual. (Editing by Anthony Boadle)

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