Published on : Saturday, October 8, 2016
Hurricane Matthew, the most devastating storm to hit the Caribbean in a decade, has already caused the death of more than 400 people in Haiti with around 50 people
reported killed in the town of Roche-a- Bateau alone.
The city of Jeremie saw 80 per cent of its buildings levelled. In Sud province 30,000 homes were destroyed.
Matthew, a Category Three storm with sustained winds of 120mph (193km/h), is
battering the coastline of the US state of Florida but has not yet made landfall. It
remains unclear whether it will do so.
At 11:00 local time (15:00 GMT) Matthew was hugging the Florida coast, about 35
miles east of Daytona Beach and moving north-west at about 13mph, the National
Hurricane Center said.
The World Food Programme’s country director in Haiti, Carlos Veloso, has warned
that it could take up to four or five days to get a clearer picture of the impact and
Speaking to the media Mr Veloso said some aid had been brought into the country’s
south-western peninsula, where many of the deaths were reported, but the region
remained largely cut off with access only possible by helicopter or sea.
After lashing through Haiti and Cuba, Hurricane Matthew pounded the Bahamas on
Thursday but no fatalities were reported there. Four people died in the neighbouring
Dominican Republic on Tuesday.
Most of the deaths in Haiti were in towns and fishing villages around the southern
coast, with many killed by falling trees, flying debris and swollen rivers.
The storm passed directly through the Tiburon peninsula, driving the sea inland and
flattening homes with winds of up to 230km/h (145mph) and torrential rain on
Monday and Tuesday. The collapse of an important bridge on Tuesday and flood
waters are hampering rescue efforts in the region. Non-governmental organisations
said phone coverage and electricity were down and people were running out of food
Across the country, there are some 350,000 in need of assistance, according to the
UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
A spokesperson for the American Red Cross, Suzy DeFrancis, said the first priority
was to get phone networks across the country back up and running.
She said aid agencies were most concerned about a surge in cholera cases, with the
sanitation system in Haiti already overwhelmed.
The Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal for $6.9m (£5.6m) "to provide
medical, shelter, water and sanitation assistance to 50,000 people".
The US is sending nine military helicopters to help deliver food and water to the
Meanwhile, in the US, Hurricane Matthew has so far stayed off the coast but is just a
few kilometres away, bringing with it strong winds and heavy rain.
President Barack Obama on Friday warned of the dangers of a storm surge, where a
wave of seawater might wash over coastal communities along a 500-mile stretch
from South Florida to Charleston, South Carolina.
A state of emergency is in place in several states and at least three million
inhabitants have been ordered to evacuate their homes. More than half a million
homes have lost power in Florida.
Nasa’s rocket launch facility based at Cape Canaveral – – recorded a wind gust of
107mph, with reports of minor damage to the roof of the Kennedy Space Center.
Forecasters are warning the storm could dump up to 15in (38cm) of rain and cause a
storm surge of 9ft or more in the state.
Orlando theme parks Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld are shut.