Authorities in the Caribbean now say 81 people have been killed as a result of Tropical Storm Noel, which triggered mudslides and flash floods across the Dominican Republic and Haiti after several days of torrential rain.

Dominican President Leonel Fernandez has declared a state of emergency after 56 people were killed and several villages were cut off from rescuers. At least one village was swept away by the raging waters, while tens of thousands of Dominicans are homeless.

Twenty-four people are dead in neighboring Haiti, where hundreds of homes have been swept away or crushed by the floods and mudslides. The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the island of Hispaniola.

The other fatality has been reported in Jamaica.

Noel also dumped several centimeters of rain on Cuba, but no damage has been reported.

Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami say the storm is approaching the Bahamas, carrying sustained winds of 95 kilometers an hour. Hurricane and tropical storm watches have been declared for the Bahamas, while tropical storm warnings remain in effect for parts of Cuba.

A tropical storm watch has also been issued for parts of the southeastern U.S. state of Florida, which is already experiencing heavy winds and high surf.

Noel is the 14th named storm of this year's Atlantic hurricane season, which began June first and runs through November 30.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.