Hurricane Matthew kills almost 900 in Haiti before striking US

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti/DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Oct 8 (Reuters) - Hurricane Matthew killed almost 900 people and displaced tens of thousands in Haiti before plowing northward on Saturday just off the southeast U.S. coast, where it caused major flooding and widespread power outages.

The number of deaths in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, jumped to at least 877 on Friday as information trickled in from remote areas previously cut off by the storm, according to a Reuters tally of tolls from officials.

Heartbreaking photos of Haiti recovering from Hurricane Matthew:

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Heartbreaking photos of Haiti recovering from Hurricane Matthew
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Heartbreaking photos of Haiti recovering from Hurricane Matthew

The port city of Les Cayes flooded, suffering badly in the storm.

(Photo via REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares)

A flooded river in Jérémie. Rising water has prompted fears of a surge in the cholera epidemic.

Source: The Guardian

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Many homes in Jérémie were heavily damaged.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

In Port-au-Prince, a street or a waste yard?

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Some homes are on the verge of collapse. Shelter is a huge concern.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Sifting through the damage. 

(Photo via REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares)

People carrying their belongings through flooded streets.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Citizens take part in a gathering while Hurricane Matthew passes in Port-au-Prince.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Looking after children is one of the biggest concerns here.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

A girl cries with her relatives at a heavily damaged school.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

An injured man at the hospital after Hurricane Matthew passed Jérémie.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Rescue workers bury the dead.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

An injured woman breast-feeds her baby at a shelter.

Source: The Guardian

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Homes are gone, but life goes on.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

A relative cries in the funeral of Anne Dit Trozitha Zamore, who died during Hurricane Matthew, in Chantal, Haiti, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A relative cries before the funeral of Anne Dit Trozitha Zamore, who died during Hurricane Matthew, in Chantal, Haiti, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Aerial view of damages in small village of Casanette near Baumond, Haiti on October 8, 2016 after Hurricane Matthew passed the area. The full scale of the devastation in hurricane-hit rural Haiti became clear as the death toll surged over 400, three days after Hurricane Matthew leveled huge swaths of the country's south. / AFP / Nicolas GARCIA (Photo credit should read NICOLAS GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Florida governor Rick Scott (C) visits a damaged beach in St Augustine, Florida, on October 8, 2016, after Hurricane Matthew passed the area. Hurricane Matthew weakened to a Category 1 storm Saturday as it neared the end of a four-day rampage that left a trail of death and destruction across the Caribbean and up the US Atlantic coast. The full scale of the devastation in hurricane-hit rural Haiti became clear as the death toll surged past 400, three days after Hurricane Matthew leveled huge swaths of the country's south. / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A man leans on a damaged boardwalk at a debris covered beach in St Augustine, Florida, on October 8, 2016, after Hurricane Matthew passed the area. Hurricane Matthew weakened to a Category 1 storm Saturday as it neared the end of a four-day rampage that left a trail of death and destruction across the Caribbean and up the US Atlantic coast. The full scale of the devastation in hurricane-hit rural Haiti became clear as the death toll surged past 400, three days after Hurricane Matthew leveled huge swaths of the country's south. / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A man leans on a leftover of a boardwalk in a debris covered beach in St Augustine, Florida, on October 8, 2016, after Hurricane Matthew passed the area. Hurricane Matthew weakened to a Category 1 storm Saturday as it neared the end of a four-day rampage that left a trail of death and destruction across the Caribbean and up the US Atlantic coast. The full scale of the devastation in hurricane-hit rural Haiti became clear as the death toll surged past 400, three days after Hurricane Matthew leveled huge swaths of the country's south. / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives get ready for the funeral of Anne Dit Trozitha Zamore, who died during Hurricane Matthew, in Chantal, Haiti, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A woman tries to get food at a shelter in the school Liliane Mars Dumarsais Estime after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Relatives cry in the funeral of Anne Dit Trozitha Zamore, who died during Hurricane Matthew, in Chantal, Haiti, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
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Matthew rampaged through Haiti's western peninsula on Tuesday with 145 mph (233 kph) winds and torrential rain. Some 61,500 people were in shelters, officials said, after the storm hurled the sea into fragile coastal villages, some of which were only now being contacted.

At least three towns in the hills and coast of Haiti's fertile western tip reported dozens of people killed, including the farming village of Chantal where the mayor said 86 people died, mostly when trees crushed houses. He said 20 others were missing.

"A tree fell on the house and flattened it. The entire house fell on us. I couldn't get out," said 27-year-old driver Jean-Pierre Jean-Donald.

"People came to lift the rubble, and then we saw my wife who had died in the same spot," said Jean-Donald, who had been married for only a year. His young daughter stood by his side, crying "Mommy."

With cellphone networks down and roads flooded, aid has been slow to reach hard-hit areas in Haiti. Food was scarce and at least seven people died of cholera, likely because of flood water mixing with sewage.

The Mesa Verde, a U.S. Navy amphibious transport dock ship, was en route to Haiti to support relief efforts. The ship has heavy-lift helicopters, bulldozers, fresh-water delivery vehicles and two surgical operating rooms.

FOUR KILLED IN FLORIDA

At 5 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT), Matthew's eye was about 20 miles (30 km) south-southeast of Hilton Head, South Carolina. It was moving northward at 12 mph (19 kph), packing 105 mph (165 kph) winds, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

It reported wind gusts of 80 mph (130 kph) in Hilton Head and predicted the storm would possibly striking the coast on Saturday morning or afternoon.

"Regardless of whether or not the center makes landfall, hurricane-force winds in the northern eyewall will lash much of the coast of South Carolina," an NHC advisory said.

Matthew sideswiped Florida's coast with winds of up to 120 mph (195 kph) but did not make landfall there. The storm was a Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. Category 5 is the strongest.

There were at least four storm-related deaths in Florida but no immediate reports of significant damage in cities and towns where Matthew swamped streets, toppled trees and knocked out power to about 1 million households and businesses.

About 450,000 were without power in Georgia and South Carolina on Saturday, according to utility companies.

In Florida, two people were killed by falling trees and an elderly couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator while sheltering from the storm inside a garage.

Hurricane and flash flood warnings extended through Georgia and South Carolina and into North Carolina early on Saturday.

Forecasters warned of flooding as 15 inches (40 cm) of rain were expected to fall in parts of the region along with massive storm surges and high tides.

Several major roadways were inundated in Charleston, South Carolina, local media reported.

Standing water closed both directions of the Interstate 95 highway in Georgia. Some 8 inches (20 cm) of rain had fallen in the Savannah, Georgia area where Matthew downed trees and caused flooding of streets.

Though gradually weakening, Matthew - which triggered mass evacuations along the U.S. coast - was forecast to remain a hurricane until it begins moving away from the U.S. Southeast on Sunday, according to the NHC.

President Barack Obama and officials urged people to heed safety instructions. Coastal residents were warned that storm surges could still pose a danger by flooding entire neighborhoods even as Matthew departs the region.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, Susan Heavey, Eric Walsh and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Gabriel Stargardter in Miami; Zachary Goelman in Orlando, Fla.; Zachary Fagenson in Wellington, Fla.; Irene Klotz in Portland, Maine; Laila Kearney in New York; Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, N.C.; Writing by Tom Brown; Editing by Mark Heinrich and John Stonestreet)


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