Evacuations in Haiti as Hurricane Looms

Evacuations in Haiti as Hurricane LoomsEvacuations in Haiti as Hurricane Looms

Haiti has begun evacuating residents from high-risk areas as Hurricane Matthew threatens widespread damage with flash floods and winds of up to 240km/h, forecasters say.

The strongest hurricane in the Atlantic in almost a decade is expected to hit Haiti and Jamaica on Monday, the US National Hurricane Center says.

Residents have been frantically stocking up on emergency supplies. Jamaica’s premier has urged citizens to make all preparations before it is too late. But Andrew Holness told Reuters that the country was prepared for the category four hurricane, BBC reported.

In Jamaica, the powerful storm is expected to bring up to 64 cm (25 inches) of rain, which could trigger life-threatening landslides and floods, according to forecasters. In the capital Kingston, supermarkets were crowded with people looking for canned foods, water and flashlights.

Officials have warned the high winds could batter Jamaica’s main tourist areas, including Montego Bay in the north.

In Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, residents from outlying islands have been evacuated and officials have banned boating. The hurricane is expected to cause up to 101 cm (40 inches) of rain there.

Matthew is expected to hit Cuba on Tuesday, potentially hitting the colonial city of Santiago de Cuba and the US Navy base of Guantanamo Bay.

A mandatory evacuation of non-essential personnel, including about 700 family members of military personnel, was underway at the base and everyone remaining there was being told to take shelter, the Navy said in a statement.

There are about 5,500 people living on the base, including 61 men held at the detention center.

Cuban President Raul Castro travelled to Santiago to supervise preparations.

Matthew is the strongest storm in the region since Hurricane Felix in 2007. It briefly reached the top category five on a scale of intensity, before weakening slightly.

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