Haiti lynch mobs murder 45 accused of spreading cholera with sorcery

Lynch mobs have murdered 45 people in Haiti after accusing them of spreading cholera by using sorcery.

Most of the victims have been hacked to death with machetes or stoned in the streets before their killers set fire to their corpses.

The savage scenes have occurred across the earthquake-ravaged island over the last week.

Prosecutor Kesner Numa said that the dead were accused of spreading the disease in regions which had been unaffected by the outbreak to date.

Murdered: The body of Ti Panyol, described as a mystic activist, after an attack by a machete-wielding mob

'We have had cases every day since last week,' he said 'People really believe that witches are taking advantage of the cholera epidemic to kill.'

Forty of the murders have been in the Grand Anse region, in the far south-west of Haiti.

While 2,500 people had died across the island since cholera broke out in mid-October, the area had been the least affected to date.

Police say many communities are refusing to co-operate with investigations.

Voodoo is widespread in Haiti with at least half of the population practicing the religion in some form.

But the island's catastrophic misfortunes over the last 12 months have caused a backlash against its practitioners. 

Epidemic: Cholera victims rest at the hospital Medecins sans Frontieres in Sarthe, a suburb in the north of Port-au-Prince

Victims of the lynch mobs have included a number of so-called sorcerers and mystics.

Haiti, already one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, was left crippled by a massive earthquake in January. An estimated 250,000 died in the Haiti.

More than a million people are still living in tent cities dotted across the landscape.

Despite millions of pounds of aid pouring in from around the world, very little has been done to either clear the devastation or begun reconstruction. 

The terrible conditions have provided an ideal crucible for the water-borne disease to spread. Aid agencies have been fighting a desperate battle against the cholera outbreak which has already claimed many lives. So far 121,51 have been treated for the disease.

Desperate battle: A worker with a protective mask and clothing stands outside the hospital of Medecins sans Frontieres