By EVENS SANON
Associated Press Writer
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Two babies were killed when a river surging with rain from Tropical Storm Fay toppled their overcrowded bus, a U.N. official said Monday, raising the storm's Caribbean death toll to at least 14.
U.N. peacekeepers arrived at the scene and confirmed that 41 passengers made it out safely, contrary to earlier reports that at least 30 passengers were feared dead, said Fred Blaise, a spokesman for the United Nations police force in Haiti.
Blaise told The Associated Press that the peacekeepers saw the bodies of the two infants who died when their bus tried to cross the swollen Riviere Glace, as well as that of a man who drowned separately in the same river.
At least two other buses crossed the river safely just before the third one flipped, witnesses said. David Pierre, one of three mayors of Beaumont, the town where the incident happened, told Radio Metropole that officials have been trying to get a bridge built in the area for years because of flooding.
Silvera Guillaume, a Haitian civil protection coordinator in the area who had earlier said 30 or more passengers were feared dead, also told the AP after arriving at the scene that only three bodies were found. Guillaume said police and Red Cross workers were still searching. An accurate count of the passengers was impossible to come by.
Six other people also died in storm-related flooding, Haiti's civil protection chief Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste said, and five deaths were blamed on the storm in the Dominican Republic. Fay then passed over Cuba on a path to become a hurricane on its way to Florida.
Cuban authorities evacuated nearly 10,000 residents in five provinces, closed ports and suspended carnival celebrations in Cienfuegos. But their worst fear -- a direct hit on Old Havana's dilapidated buildings -- was not realized. There were no reports of major damage or flooding, and most evacuees headed home Monday.
In Florida, roughly 25,000 tourists were evacuated, according to Monroe County Mayor Mario Di Gennaro, while some bars still did business with the holdouts.
"We're gonna ride it out," said Willie Dykes, 58, who lives on a sailboat in Key West. "We're not worried about it. We've seen this movie before."
Associated Press writers Jonathan M. Katz in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Brian Skoloff in Key West; and Will Weissert in Havana contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)