- Title: Haitian port town of Les Cayes faces catastrophe from Hurricane Matthew
- Date: 5th October 2016
- Summary: LES CAYES, HAITI (OCTOBER 4, 2016) (REUTERS) PALM TREE BLOWING IN WIND TREE KNOCKED OVER HOUSE MAN STANDING AMID KNOCKED OVER VEGETATION LOCALS WALKING THROUGH RUNNING STREAM AMID FLOODING TREES AND PLANT LIFE BLOWING IN THE WIND MORE OF RESIDENTS WALKING THROUGH STREAM VARIOUS MORE OF PALM TREES BLOWING IN WIND WATER WASHING UP ON SHORE, AS GARBAGE PILES UP RESIDENTS WALKING THROUGH FLOODED ZONE HOUSE UNDERWATER AMID FLOODING
- Embargoed: 20th October 2016 05:15
- Keywords: Les Cayes Matthew Haiti palm trees wind flooding
- Location: LES CAYES, HAITI / INTERNET
- City: LES CAYES, HAITI / INTERNET
- Country: Haiti
- Reuters ID: LVA00152Q90EF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Hurricane Matthew, the fiercest Caribbean storm in almost a decade, hit Cuba and Haiti with winds of well over 100 miles-per-hour (160 kph) on Tuesday (October 4), pummelling towns, farmland and resorts and forcing hundreds of thousands of people to take cover.
Early reports and footage suggested that Cuba had not been hit as hard as Haiti, where the situation was described as "catastrophic" in the port town of Les Cayes.
Dubbed by the U.N. the worst humanitarian crisis to hit Haiti since a devastating 2010 earthquake, the Category Four hurricane unleashed torrential rain on the island of Hispaniola that Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic.
As it barreled towards the United States, the eye of the storm had moved off the northeastern coast of Cuba by Tuesday night, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Over 200,000 people were killed in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, by the January 2010 earthquake.
Matthew was blowing sustained winds of 140 mph (230 kph) or more for much of Tuesday, though as night fell, the windspeed eased to about 130 mph, the NHC said.
Matthew is likely to remain a powerful hurricane through at least Thursday night as it sweeps through the Bahamas towards Florida and the Atlantic coast of the southern United States, the NHC said. The storm is expected to be very near the east coast of Florida by Thursday evening, the center added.
With communications out across most of Haiti and a key bridge impassable because of a swollen river, there was no immediate word on the full extent of potential casualties and damage from the storm in the poorest country in the Americas.
The United States has already offered Haiti the use of some helicopters, said Haitian Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph, who added that damage to housing and crops in the country was apparently extensive.
Twice destroyed by hurricanes in the 18th century, Les Cayes was hit hard by Matthew.
"The situation in Les Cayes is catastrophic, the city is flooded, you have trees lying in different places and you can barely move around. The wind has damaged many houses," said Deputy Mayor Marie Claudette Regis Delerme, who fled a house in the town of about 70,000 when the wind ripped the roof off.
One man died as the storm crashed through his home in the nearby beach town of Port Salut, Haiti's civil protection service said. He had been too sick to leave for a shelter, officials said. The body of a second man who went missing at sea was also recovered, the government said. Another fisherman was killed in heavy seas over the weekend as the storm approached.
As much as 3 feet (1 metre) of rain was forecast to fall over hills in Haiti that are largely deforested and prone to flash floods and mudslides, threatening villages as well as shantytowns in the capital Port-au-Prince.
The hurricane has hit Haiti at a time when tens of thousands of people are still living in flimsy tents and makeshift dwellings because of the 2010 earthquake.
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