SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) – Tropical Storm Noel brought heavy rain and flooding to the Dominican Republic on Monday. Officials said at least 20 people died.

At least 20 other people were reported missing in the storm that lashed Hispaniola, the island the country shares with Haiti, said Ramon Franco of the Dominican emergency services agency.

Noel was expected to drop as much as 20 inches of rain on Hispaniola as it heads northwest toward the Bahamas.

Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis said there were no immediate reports of casualties in his country, but he urged people to seek shelter.

Three of those killed died when they were swept up by a fast-moving river in San Jose de Ocoa, southwest of the capital. Three more – a couple and their child – were killed in a mudslide in the port city of Haina, officials said. Details of the the other four deaths were not immediately available.

Mountainous terrain weakened the storm overnight, but Noel still had sustained winds of about 50 mph after passing near Haiti’s northwestern coast, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

At 5 p.m. Monday, Noel’s poorly organized center was about 50 miles northeast of Cuba’s eastern tip and 215 miles south-southeast of Great Exuma Island in the central Bahamas, forecasters said.

It was heading northwest at roughly 15 mph.

A long-term forecast has the storm passing through the Bahamas and gradually turning east, away from the U.S. coastline.


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