Hurricane Matthew: What we know
Hurricane Matthew barrelled toward the east coast of Florida on Thursday after leaving a trail of destruction in Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. Here's what we know about the worst hurricane to hit the Caribbean in a decade:
- HAITI -
At least 108 people were killed by the storm in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, with the final toll expected to be much higher.
Officials said the storm caused "catastrophic" damage, crushing bridges, forcing rivers to overflow and blowing roofs apart.
More than 29,000 homes were destroyed in the hard-hit Sud department alone, and more than 20,000 people have been displaced, local authorities said as they assessed the damage on Thursday.
Some 350,000 people are in need of assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
- CUBA -
More than 1.3 million people were evacuated in Cuba, where Matthew made landfall Tuesday night.
No casualties were reported, but officials described severe damage to the historic town of Baracoa, the first Spanish settlement on the island (founded in 1511).
Two other eastern towns, Maisi and Imias, remain cut off in the aftermath of the storm.
- DOMINICAN REPUBLIC -
At least four people were killed and one injured in the Dominican Republic by the hurricane.
Some 28 people were rescued from rooftops or trees.
More than 36,500 people were evacuated, and 3,000 homes destroyed, flooded or damaged.
- BAHAMAS -
A hurricane warning was in effect for the central and northwestern Bahamas at midday Thursday as Matthew battered the islands with winds of 140 miles per hour (220 kilometers per hour).
Witnesses said roads were littered with fallen palm trees and smashed fences. Utility lines were down as heavy rains doused business districts and windows shattered in some coastal hotels.
Airports were shut down, shipping vessels were re-routed, and power outages were reported.
Coastal residents were urged to seek high ground to avoid storm surge and high waves.
- UNITED STATES -
Matthew was "extremely dangerous" as it headed toward Florida, the National Hurricane Center said.
Some three million people along the US southeast coast were given urgent evacuation orders, as officials warned of life-threatening floods and surging waves.
At 1500 GMT, Matthew churned toward Florida, with landfall expected near Cape Canaveral, where NASA's Kennedy Space Center is located, by Friday morning.
At midday Thursday, a hurricane warning was in effect for north of Golden Beach Florida to Edisto Beach, South Carolina.
Florida Governor Rick Scott warned residents of the state's eastern coast to expect widespread power outages, and called up 2,500 National Guard troops to assist with shelters and evacuation orders.
Miami's airport canceled most flights and the Fort Lauderdale airport shut down on Thursday morning.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said that as of 1200 GMT Thursday, 175,000 people had evacuated, out of 250,000 concerned in two vulnerable counties, Charleston and Beaufort.
"That is not enough," she told reporters. "We need to have more people evacuating."
© 2016 AFP