KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — Tropical Storm Tomas weakened over the Caribbean yesterday, but forecasters warned it was likely to regain power and threaten Haiti’s crowded earthquake refugee camps by the weekend.
The storm has been blamed for five deaths in the eastern Caribbean, where tiny islands were still assessing the damage from the hurricane that swept through over the weekend.
In preparation for a possible strike on Haiti, the US Southern Command pulled the USS Iwo Jima out of a humanitarian mission in Suriname for possible disaster relief in Port-au-Prince.
Tomas’s maximum sustained winds had decreased to about 45 miles per hour yesterday. The storm was about 400 miles south-southeast of Port-au- Prince, and was moving west-southwest.
Tomas slipped under the threshold for a hurricane Sunday evening and the US National Hurricane Center in Miami predicted more weakening before it begins to strengthen again around midweek.
At that point, Tomas is expected to veer northward in the general direction of Haiti, where some 1.3 million people are living under tarpaulins and in tents.
Daniel Brown, a center forecaster, said Tomas is “likely to strengthen when it’s over the central Caribbean,’’ and Haiti could be hit by rains from outer bands in another couple of days.