Evacuations in US as Matthew hits Bahamas
MIAMI: The United States began evacuating coastal areas yesterday as Hurricane Matthew pounded portions of the Bahamas after it tore through the Caribbean, causing severe damage and leaving at least 27 people dead.
Haiti’s presidential election, scheduled for Sunday, was postponed after Matthew blasted the impoverished nation, knocking out a key bridge providing access to the country’s south where the storm made landfall.
Matthew, the worst storm to hit the Caribbean in nearly a decade, also forced the closure of airports in the Bahamas.
All cruise ships have been re-routed from the popular tourist destination, the government said.
“Seriously consider now moving to higher grounds. Natural phenomena can be violently unpredictable,” Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie told southern coastal communities before the storm hit.
US President Barack Obama warned Americans in the storm’s path – including more than a million people told to evacuate from vulnerable coastal areas – to take the threat seriously.
“We hope for the best, but we want to prepare for the worst,” he said.
The storm slammed into Haiti and Cuba as a Category Four hurricane on Tuesday but has since been downgraded to three, on a scale of five, by the US National Hurricane Centre.
Matthew’s overall death toll stood at 27 – 23 in Haiti and four in the Dominican Republic – but this looked certain to climb.
Meanwhile, South Korea cleaned up yesterday after Typhoon Chaba lashed its southern coast with powerful winds and heavy rains that triggered flash floods and left six people dead and four missing.
The violent storm passed over the southern tip of the Korean peninsula on Wednesday, pummelling the port of Busan – the country’s second-largest city – and the industrial city of Ulsan.
In Ulsan, a man drowned near his apartment and a woman was found dead at a flooded underground parking lot.
More than 230,000 homes across the coastal area suffered power outages, but the Korea Electric Power Corp said supplies had been restored by yesterday morning.
Chaba had triggered severe storm warnings in Japan, but was downgraded to an tropical cyclone over the Sea of Japan (East Sea) before it hit Honshu island on Wednesday evening. – AFP
A man is carried across La Digue river in the Haitian town of Petit Goave where the bridge collapsed during rains brought by Matthew on Wednesday.