The authorities declared yesterday Monday a “three-day national mourning” paying tribute to the victims of the disasters due to torrential rains that hit the Dominican Republic in recent days, as according to the latest official count the dead reached 24.

“Three days of national mourning are declared throughout the territory of the Dominican Republic (…) due to the deaths caused by the recent weather events” in the Caribbean country, states the presidential decree made public yesterday by the services of the head of state Luis Abinader.

About 17,000 people were rushed out of high-risk areas, the Center for Emergency Operations (COE) said.

Almost all of the country’s provinces (31 out of 32) still remained on alert yesterday, according to the authorities.

The death toll rose to 24 yesterday from 21 on Sunday night. Four of the people who died were US citizens and another three were Haitian nationals, according to the COE, which warned that the toll could rise even further.

Nine of the 21 deaths were recorded on Saturday night when a wall collapsed on vehicles on 27 February Avenue, one of Santo Domingo’s main thoroughfares.

Educational institutions were announced to remain closed until tomorrow, Wednesday, in order to “guarantee the safety of children and young people”, according to a statement by President Abinader.

The head of state attributed the torrential rains to climate change.

“Those who don’t believe in climate change should start believing in it,” Mr. Abinader said yesterday Sunday, speaking of “extensive and large” damages, but without giving specific numbers.

The rains also resulted in reports of power and water outages in some areas of the country.

At the end of August, the passage of the storm Franklin through the Dominican Republic had claimed the lives of at least two people, another had been declared missing, while some 3,000 citizens had had to be hastily removed from their homes.