At least 17 people, including a 5-year-old girl, have drowned and several are missing in flooding in northern and northeastern Haiti, press reports said Sunday.

The heavy rains that have deluged Haiti over the past two days are the result of a cold front stationed over the northern part of the country, national weather service director Ronald Semelfort said.

The rains have caused rivers to overflow, resulting in heavy damage to crops and both public and private structures, Radio Metropole reported on its Web site.

A total of 1,573 people were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in 14 shelters due to the rain, emergency management officials said.

At least a dozen towns suffered flooding, mainly in the north, due to rising river waters.

The situation has been aggravated because the ground is saturated with water and unregulated building in the area has blocked natural drainage pathways.

Haiti, which is under emergency alert, is trying to recover from the damage caused some days ago by Hurricane Sandy, which killed 54 people and injured about 20 others here, according to officials figures. Another 20 people are still missing from that storm.

Haitian officials have requested international aid to deal with a humanitarian crisis that could affect 2 million people, according to figures provided by U.N. offices in the impoverished country. EFE