(Updates number of dead and missing in Haiti)

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Haitian authorities said Saturday that a new nationwide assessment finds that 44 people have died in Hurricane Sandy, while reducing to 12 the number of missing persons.

The provinces of Sud, Sud-est, Grand Anse, Nippes in the southwest and Ouest were hit hardest, with widespread damages that have not yet been quantified.

The Haitian government maintains a state of maximum alert in these five provinces due to the severe flooding left by the rains from Sandy, while in the capital of Port-au-Prince the sun shone again after four days of overcast.

Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe announced Friday night that, due to the extent of the catastrophe, the government has been forced to raise from $5 million to $6 million the amount set aside for the country's immediate needs after the storm.

The head of government also announced that humanitarian aid was on its way from Venezuela.

According to official data, Sud province was the most affected with at least 12 deaths, though local emergency management services reported 14 dead.

The worst drama occurred in Grand-Goave, where a mother and her four children died under a mudslide. Some 18,000 people were evacuated and lodged in 136 provisional shelters.

Hurricane Sandy dumped more than 500 millimeters (20 inches) of rain on Haiti, almost double amount that fell during Tropical Storm Isaac last August, Prime Minister Lamothe said.

Sandy, which was a Category 2 hurricane at its peak intensity earlier this week, killed 11 people in Cuba and one in Jamaica and now threatens the northeastern United States, prompting the states of New York and Virginia to declare a state of emergency.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in its latest public advisory at 8:00 a.m. Saturday that Sandy currently is a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour. It had been downgraded to a tropical storm earlier Saturday morning.

The NHC said the hurricane will move parallel to the southeast coast of the United states during the weekend.

In Cuba, powerful winds and torrential rains associated with Sandy destroyed or damaged thousands of homes, stores, warehouses and plantations, mainly in Santiago de Cuba and Holguin. EFE