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More Than 100 Dead in Tropical Storm Noel

Rescue crews in the Dominican Republic are continuing to search by boat and helicopter for survivors of Tropical Storm Noel. From Miami, VOA's Brian Wagner reports the storm is blamed for at least 118 deaths, mainly in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Weather forecasters upgraded Tropical Storm Noel to a hurricane overnight as the system moved north into the Atlantic Ocean. Experts at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm was moving away from tropical waters that had fed it, but said it still posed a threat to the eastern United States and Canada.

They said coastal areas of North Carolina could expect strong winds and up to 15 centimeters of rain. The storm is expected to hit the Canadian province of Nova Scotia on Sunday.

Stormy weather cleared Friday in the Dominican Republic, where search efforts are continuing in flooded villages and farming regions southwest of the capital. Officials there said at least 73 were killed, mainly by flood waters from overflowing rivers and water reservoirs.

Juliana Pierossi, spokeswoman for World Vision International in Santo Domingo, says teams are struggling to reach some isolated communities and deliver aid to those in need.

"We have about 65,000 people that have been evacuated from their homes and now are living with families or in shelters. In shelters, World Vision has distributed mattresses, food, sheets, hygiene kits, blankets."

Pierossi said medical teams are working to prevent the spread of disease among people exposed to the floods and to ensure good hygiene in evacuation centers.

On the other side of the island of Hispaniola, Haitian officials said Tropical Storm Noel had killed 43 people. One death was reported in Jamaica and another in the Bahamas.

The storm also battered eastern and central Cuba, where it destroyed crops and buildings and forced 24,000 people to flee their homes. No casualties were reported.