Hurricane Matthew moves into Bahamas
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP):
Rescue workers in Haiti struggled to reach cutoff towns and learn the full extent of the death and destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew as the storm began battering the Bahamas Wednesday and triggered evacuations along the US East Coast.
At least 11 deaths had been blamed on the powerful storm during its weeklong march across the Caribbean, five of them in Haiti. But with a key bridge washed out, roads impassable and phone communications down, the western tip of Haiti was isolated and there was no word on dead and injured.
Forecasters said the high winds, pounding rains and storm surge were already beginning to have an impact in the southern Bahamas as the storm, with top sustained winds of 125 mph (115 kph).
A day earlier, Matthew swept across a remote area of Haiti with 145 mph (230 kph) winds, and government leaders said they weren't close to fully gauging the impact in the vulnerable, flood-prone country where less powerful storms have killed thousands living in flimsy shacks.
"What we know is that many, many houses have been damaged. Some lost rooftops and they'll have to be replaced while others were totally destroyed," Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph said.
The hurricane also rolled across the sparsely populated tip of Cuba overnight, destroying dozens of homes in Cuba's easternmost city, Baracoa, and leaving hundreds of others damaged.
There were no immediate reports of deaths or large-scale devastation, though the waves had picked up a large shipping container and dropped it three blocks inland from the shore.
By Wednesday morning Matthew was passing east of the Bahamian island of Inagua, moving over open water on a forecast path expected to take it very near the Bahamas capital of Nassau and then Florida's Atlantic coast by Thursday evening.
At 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) Matthew's eye was about 45 miles (85 kilometers) east-northeast of Cabo Lucrecia, Cuba. Matthew was heading north at 10 mph (17 kph).
Matthew will likely pose a threat to Florida by late Thursday and other areas of the East Coast afterward.