Thousands grieve hurricane victims in Dominican Republic

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — With scores dead and hundreds missing, Dominicans grieved at packed churches and searched for drinkable water on Thursday throughout the hurricane-battered country.
Frantic searches continued for the missing, including 45 people who disappeared when floods swept away a shelter in San Cristobal.
As the hurricane headed for the Florida Keys, bad news kept coming from throughout the Caribbean: 27 dead in Haiti, $2 billion in damage and hundreds of homes lost in Puerto Rico, three dead and two missing in St. Kitts, two killed in Cuba.
Everywhere, storm victims struggled to find water, food, ice and other bare essentials to cope with loss and the tropical heat.
In the Domincan Republic, Thursday was the day of the country’s patron saint, Virgen Mercedes. Residents crammed churches to pray for hurricane victims.
President Leonel Fernandez announced Wednesday that 70 Dominicans had died and hundreds were still missing since Georges’ 110 mph winds swept through this impoverished Caribbean nation on Tuesday.
The hurricane struck southern Cuba on Wednesday, crossed it and was moving off its northern coast Thursday afternoon, threatening the Florida Keys.