Hurricane Matthew kills at least 283 in Haiti, dozens in one village

UPDATE:

Hurricane Matthew has killed at least 283 people in Haiti, local officials said, including "several dozen" in one coastal town on a part of the southwestern peninsula that authorities and rescue workers were only beginning to reach days after the storm.

EARLIER:

JUPITER/ORLANDO, Fla., Oct 6 (Reuters) - Hurricane Matthew, the fiercest Caribbean storm in nearly a decade, blasted the Bahamas on Thursday as it headed for the southeastern United States after killing at least 140 people, mostly in Haiti, on its deadly northward march.

Matthew, carrying winds of 140 mph (220 kph), was "relentlessly pounding" the northwestern part of the island chain en route to Florida's Atlantic coast, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

SEE ALSO: Hurricane Matthew a potentially devastating Category 4 or 5 strike ahead on Florida's East Coast; Strongest in decades

The hurricane was likely to remain a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale as it approached the United States, where it could either take direct aim at Florida or brush along the state's coast through Friday night, the center said, warning of "potentially disastrous impacts."

Hurricane conditions were expected in parts of Florida by later on Thursday.

Some 136 people were killed in Haiti, local officials said, and thousands were displaced after the storm flattened homes, uprooted trees and inundated neighborhoods earlier in the week. Four people were killed in the Dominican Republic, which neighbors Haiti.

See more images related to Hurricane Matthew

28 PHOTOS
Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, Cuba
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Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, Cuba
A man cuts branches off fallen trees in a flooded area by a river after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A woman stans by debris after the passage of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man fixes a roof of a partially built house after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Siline Crossaint poses for portrait inside her house, after Hurricane Matthew passes Cite-Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A Haitian migrant is seen as a child rests inside a shelter, after leaving Brazil, where they were relocated to due to Haiti's 2010 earthquake, in Mexicali, Mexico, October 5, 2016. Picture taken October 5, 2016 REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
A Haitian migrant walks near garbage at the Hotel del Migrante shelter after leaving Brazil, where she relocated to after Haiti's 2010 earthquake, in Mexicali, Mexico, October 5, 2016. Picture taken October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Isma Nadenje poses for a portrait inside her house, after Hurricane Matthew passes Cite-Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A girl cries as she stays with her relatives at a partially destroyed school after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A man stands next to a destroyed house after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People walk down the streets next to destroyed houses after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A flooded river is seen after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People walk down the street next to destroyed houses and fallen trees after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A worker removes branches from the ground at the airport after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man works with damaged property in the Carbonera community of Guantanamo, Cuba following Hurricane Matthew, October 5, 2016. The storm slammed into Haiti and Cuba as a Category Four hurricane on October 4, 2016 but has since been downgraded to three, on a scale of five, by the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). Its winds were howling at 115 miles per hour (185 kilometers per hour). / AFP / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Children are seen before damaged property in the Carbonera community of Guantanamo, Cuba following Hurricane Matthew, October 5, 2016. The storm slammed into Haiti and Cuba as a Category Four hurricane on October 4, 2016 but has since been downgraded to three, on a scale of five, by the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). Its winds were howling at 115 miles per hour (185 kilometers per hour). / AFP / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A man is carried across the river La Digue in Petit Goave where the bridge collapsed during the rains of the Hurricane Matthew, southwest of Port-au-Prince, October 5, 2016. Haiti and the eastern tip of Cuba -- blasted by Matthew on October 4, 2016 -- began the messy and probably grim task of assessing the storm's toll. Matthew hit them as a Category Four hurricane but has since been downgraded to three, on a scale of five, by the US National Hurricane Center. / AFP / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A boat is seen inside a destroyed house next to the sea after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Part of a boat is seen on a street next to the sea after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Residents walk on a street after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man clears debris after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man cleans out the water from his flooded house after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Women sit at the entrance of a house damaged by Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man walks in a flooded street, in a neighbourhood of the commune of Cite Soleil, in the Haitian Capital Port-au-Prince, on October 4, 2016. Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti, triggering floods and forcing thousands to flee the path of a storm that has already claimed three lives in the poorest country in the Americas. / AFP / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents observe an overflowing Guaso river in the Guantanamo province, on October 4, 2016. The most menacing storm in the Caribbean in nearly a decade, Matthew began battering Haiti late Monday with strong winds and rising sea levels, before barreling ashore some 250 miles west of the capital Port-au-Prince. / AFP / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Picture taken on October 5, 2016 showing the state in which a road between Guantanamo and Baracoa was left after the passage of Hurricane Matthew through the eastern tip of Cuba on Tuesday afternoon. Hurricane Matthew, the Caribbean's worst storm in nearly a decade, barreled towards the Bahamas Wednesday morning after killing nine people and pummeling Haiti and Cuba. / AFP / Yamil LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative of two siblings who died when a landslide knocked the walls of their house down during the passage of Hurricane Matthew, sits in the window of a house in the neighbourhood of Capotillo, in Santo Domingo on October 4, 2016. Matthew, a Category Four hurricane, slammed into the Dominican Republic and Haiti Tuesday, triggering major floods and forcing thousands to flee the path of the storm that has claimed at least three lives in each country. / AFP / afp / Erika SANTELICES (Photo credit should read ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images)
A child stands on a street, after Hurricane Matthew passes Cite-Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
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As the storm passed about 25 miles (40 km) from the Bahamas capital of Nassau, howling gusts of wind brought down palms and other trees and flipped shingles off the rooftops of many houses. Bahamas Power and Light disconnected much of Nassau as Matthew bore down on the town.

No structural damage was immediately visible, a Reuters witness said, and rain was fairly light.

Local media reports from southern New Providence indicated that the communities of Yamacraw, Coral Harbour and Pinewood were hit hard by floods after a storm surge of some 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 meters). There had been no reports of casualties.

It was too soon to predict where Matthew might do the most of its damage in the United States, but the National Hurricane Center's hurricane warning extended up the Atlantic coast from southern Florida through Georgia and into South Carolina. More than 12 million people in the United States were under hurricane watches and warnings, according to the Weather Channel.

ROADS FILLED WITH EVACUEES

Roads in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina were jammed, and gas stations and food stores ran out of supplies as the storm approached with high winds, strong storm surges and drenching rain.

Florida Governor Rick Scott warned there could be "catastrophic" damage if Matthew slammed directly into the state and urged some 1.5 million people there to heed evacuation orders.

"If you're reluctant to evacuate, just think about all the people... already killed," Scott said at a news conference on Thursday. "Time is running out. This is clearly either going to have a direct hit or come right along the coast, and we're going to have hurricane-force winds."

Scott, who activated several thousand National Guard troops to help deal with the storm, warned that millions of people were likely to be left without power.

Related: Americans prepare for Hurricane Matthew

27 PHOTOS
Preparations for Hurricane Matthew in the United States
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Preparations for Hurricane Matthew in the United States
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - OCTOBER 05: South Florida resident James Balboni prepares for Hurricane Matthew on October 5, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The hurricane has pounded Jamaica and Haiti on its way north toward the U.S. coastline. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - OCTOBER 05: South Florida resident James Balboni puts gas in a generator in preparation for Hurricane Matthew on October 5, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The hurricane has pounded Jamaica and Haiti on its way north toward the U.S. coastline. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
A customer counts pieces of plywood at a Home Depot Inc. store in Miami, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. A watch for Hurricane Matthew posted for Florida's Atlantic coast has been extended, now running from the Volusia/Brevard county line to Golden Beach, including Boca Raton and Titusville, according to U.S. National Weather Service. Photographer: Mark Elias/Bloomberg via Getty Images
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - OCTOBER 05: South Florida resident James Balboni prepares for Hurricane Matthew on October 5, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The hurricane has pounded Jamaica and Haiti on its way north toward the U.S. coastline. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - OCTOBER 05: A sign points to an evacuation route as South Florida residents prepare for Hurricane Matthew on October 5, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The hurricane has pounded Jamaica and Haiti on its way north toward the U.S. coastline. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Liz Tirado tries to put up her shutters to cover the windows of her store front ahead of Hurricane Matthew on Cocoa Beach, Florida on October 5, 2016. Hurricane Matthew, the Caribbean's worst storm in nearly a decade, barreled towards the Bahamas Wednesday morning after killing nine people and pummeling Haiti and Cuba. Far to the north, the first evacuations were ordered in the United States as coastal residents prepared to escape the approaching monster storm, expected off the East Coast later this week. / AFP / RHONA WISE (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - OCTOBER 05: A man loads panels used to cover windows onto his car as South Florida residents prepare for Hurricane Matthew on October 5, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The hurricane has pounded Jamaica and Haiti on its way north toward the U.S. coastline. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Graylan Coleman (R) helps a relative remove furniture at a beachfront home along Waccamaw Drive in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in Garden City Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Dean Legge (R) helps his sister-law Josey Vereen (L) remove a mattress at her beachfront home along Waccamaw Drive in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in Garden City Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Dean Legge (L), Steven Thigpen (R) and Graylan Coleman (C) help a relative remove furniture at a beachfront home along Waccamaw Drive in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in Garden City Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
People line up to fill their cars with gas after South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley ordered a Wednesday afternoon evacuation of statewide coastal counties in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 6: (L to R) Shane Reed and Jon Anderson walk along the Daytona Beach Boardwalk carrying boogie boards, October 6, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida. With Hurricane Matthew approaching the Atlantic coast of the United States, the governors of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina have all declared a state of emergency. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
ORMOND BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 6: Patrick Sheehan boards up windows at his pizza shop, October 6, 2016 in Ormond Beach, Florida. With Hurricane Matthew approaching the Atlantic coast of the United States, the governors of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina have all declared a state of emergency. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 06: Ted Houston and his dog Kermit visit the beach as Hurricane Matthew approaches the area on October 6, 2016 in Palm Beach, United States. The hurricane is expected to make landfall sometime this evening or early in the morning as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 06: Kevin Forde (L) and John Haughey put up plywood on a window as they prepare for Hurricane Matthew as it approaches the area on October 6, 2016 in Miami Beach, United States. The hurricane is expected to make landfall sometime this evening or early in the morning as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Shoppers at a local market check the empty bread shelves October 5, 2016 in Titusville, Florida, as Hurricane Mathew heads for the southeastern United States. Hurricane Matthew has already hit Haiti and Cuba, with fatal results, and is barreling towards Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. / AFP / BRUCE WEAVER (Photo credit should read BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers install storm boards at Ripley's Believe IT Or Not in preparation for Hurricane Matthew in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Workers install storm boards in preparation for Hurricane Matthew along Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Shelves formerly holding water bottles sit empty at a supermarket before the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in South Daytona, Florida, U.S., Oct. 6, 2016. REUTERS/Phelan Ebenhack
Workers install storm boards in preparation for Hurricane Matthew along Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A fireman cuts plywood boards to cover the station's windows at the Charleston Fire Department's branch in the historic district ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, in Charleston, South Carolina October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Homeowner Don Appell prepares to board up one of the windows at his home ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Cherry Grove, South Carolina, U.S. October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
A resident leaves a message for the storm after securing for Hurricane Matthew in Garden City Beach, South Carolina, U.S. October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Residents of Charleston occupy a school hallway at a shelter ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, in North Charleston, South Carolina October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A resident walks past a wall of sandbags protecting a store in one of the city's low-lying areas before the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Police officers and Red Cross workers wait for evacuees at a shelter that welcomes their pets too ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, at an elementary school in North Charleston, South Carolina October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
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Florida, Georgia and South Carolina opened shelters for evacuees. As of Thursday morning, more than 3,000 people were being housed in 60 shelters in Florida, Scott said.

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina declared states of emergency, empowering their governors to mobilize the National Guard.

President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Florida, the White House said, a move that authorized the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

Hundreds of passenger flights were canceled in south Florida, and the cancellations were expected to spread north in coming days along the storm's path, airlines including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines said. A FedEx spokeswoman also warned of possible disruptions to package services.

Theme parks and other attractions in the central Florida city of Orlando such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida and SeaWorld were closing on Thursday afternoon and would remain closed through Friday, according to their websites.

See how residents in the U.S. are preparing for Hurricane Matthew

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Florida prepares for Hurricane Matthew
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Florida prepares for Hurricane Matthew
People line up to fill their LP propane gas cylinders in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Downtown Miami is pictured in this aerial photo as clouds begin to form in advance of Hurricane Matthew in Miami, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri 
A man carries tanks filled with gas while other people line up to fill their cars with gas in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Workers remove umbrellas at Caffe Milano in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in South Beach, Florida, U.S., October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Javier Galeano
Workers put up plywood in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in Miami Beach, Florida, U.S., October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Javier Galeano
People line up to fill their LP propane gas cylinders in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Workers remove umbrellas at the Starlite Hotel in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in South Beach, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Javier Galeano
Workers tie chairs in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in South Beach, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Javier Galeano
People queue as they flock to the supermarket to take care of last minute shopping in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
People line up to fill their cars with gas in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
People line up to fill their cars with gas in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
People line up to fill their LP propane gas cylinders in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Residents buy wooden boards at a store in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
DELRAY BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 06: Danny Askins and Brenden Kavana (R) put up hurricane shutters as they prepare the Sandwiches Sea restaurant as Hurricane Matthew approaches the area on October 6, 2016 in Delray Beach, United States. The hurricane is expected to make landfall sometime this evening or early in the morning as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 06: Kevin Forde (L) and John Haughey put up plywood on a window as they prepare for Hurricane Matthew as it approaches the area on October 6, 2016 in Miami Beach, United States. The hurricane is expected to make landfall sometime this evening or early in the morning as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Schools were closed across the region.

At about 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), Matthew was 125 miles (205 km) east-southeast of West Palm Beach, the hurricane center said. It was heading northwest at about 14 mph (22 kph) and was expected to continue on this track on Thursday.

The eye, or center, of the storm was forecast to pass close to Freeport, on Grand Bahama, the most industrialized part of Bahamas and home to Buckeye Partners LP's BORCO oil storage terminal, Statoil's south Riding Point Terminal as well as pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Grand Bahamas Shipyard, also in Freeport and used by Carnival Corp. for cruise ship repairs, was closed from Monday as the storm approached.

On Tuesday and Wednesday Matthew, the strongest hurricane in the Caribbean since Felix struck Central America in 2007, whipped Cuba and Haiti with 140 mph (225 kph) winds and torrential rain, pummeling towns and destroying livestock, crops and homes.

The last major hurricane, classified as a storm bearing sustained winds of more than 110 mph (177 kph), to hit the United States was Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

'MIGHT NOT HAVE A HOUSE'

In Florida, fuel stations posted "out of gas" signs after cars waited in long lines to fill up. At a Subco gas station in Orlando, the gas pumps ran dry on Wednesday afternoon.

The shop was a stopping off point for coastal residents seeking shelter inland from the coast. Among them was Jonas Sylvan, 44, of Melbourne, Florida, who planned to hole up in a hotel with his wife, two daughters and dog. "We're just trying to get away from the coast," he said. "It's safer here."

Bumper-to-bumper traffic extended for more than 10 miles (16 km) on the main highway leading west to Orlando from the coast.

In the central Florida coastal city of Jupiter, people scrambled to make preparations.

"Our house is wood construction, so who knows what will happen," said Libby Valentine, 75, of Jupiter. "The whole idea is to stay safe and hope you have the grace to deal with the aftermath because you might not have a house."

Most stores were closed or planning to do so soon. A line of two dozen cars snaked out of a Marathon gas station and tied up traffic on a nearby road. Next door, the windows of a Sabor Latino Supermarket were covered with plywood and a hand-written sign said it closed at noon.

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