Hundreds die in Haiti as hurricane hits Florida
Wind gusts of up to 100kph and heavy downpours reported
REUTERS/ Matthew, the first major hurricane threatening a direct hit on the United States in more than 10 years, lashed Florida yesterday with heavy rains and winds after killing at least 339 people in Haiti on its destructive march north through the Caribbean.
Winds gusts of up to 100kph and heavy downpours were reported in several coastal communities in Florida as the eye of the Category Four hurricane tracked along the east coast of the state early yesterday.
“We are just bracing and the winds are picking up,” Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry told CNN. “A great number of our residents have taken heed to our warnings and we are certainly concerned about those that have not.”
More than 140,000 Florida households were without power, according to Governor Rick Scott. In West Palm Beach, once lit street lights and houses went dark and Interstate 95 was empty as the storm rolled through the community of 100,000 people.
Hurricane Matthew carried extremely dangerous winds of 215kph as it pounded the northwestern part of the Bahamas en route to Florida’s Atlantic coast earlier, the US National Hurricane Centre said.
While Matthew’s winds had dropped on Thursday night, it remained a Category Four on the fivestep Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity as it neared Florida. There could either plow inland or tear along the Atlantic coast through yesterday night, the Miami-based centre said.
Residents sleep in a hallway at a school used as a shelter while Hurricane Matthew approaches Melbourne, Florida, US, on Thursday