Storm death toll in Haiti rises to more than 280

AP Photo
The Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Nicole (all times local):

11:15 p.m.

Forecasters say hurricane conditions are expected to reach the Florida warning area in the next few hours.

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Matthew still has maximum sustained winds near 130 mph (215 kph) but is forecast to weaken to a Category 3 in the next two days, when it moves north into Georgia and South Carolina.

President Barack Obama on Thursday night declared a state of emergency for Georgia. He had already issued states of emergency for Florida and South Carolina.

Matthew is about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, and moving northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

Florida Power and Light reports that about 95,000 customers — about 42,000 in Palm Beach County alone — are already without electricity.

9:30 p.m.

Officials say winds are picking up and thousands are without power in Florida as Hurricane Matthew approaches.

The National Hurricane Center says the eye of Matthew is northwest of Grand Bahama Island, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida, and a wind gust of 50 mph (80 kph) has been recorded at Palm Beach International Airport.

Florida Power and Light says more than 30,000 customers — about 24,000 in Palm Beach County alone — are already without electricity.

Matthew is still a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (210 kph). It is moving northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

9:10 p.m.

The coordinator for Haiti’s Interior Ministry in the area hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew says the confirmed death toll in that southwestern zone is now 283.

Emmanuel Pierre told The Associated Press late Thursday that he expects the toll to rise as authorities reach remote places that were left isolated by the storm.

The overall death toll in Haiti is not clear. Shortly before Pierre spoke, the headquarters for Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency had put the number of confirmed deaths for the whole country at 122.

Bodies have started to appear as waters recede in some areas two days after Matthew smashed concrete walls, flattened palm trees and tore roofs off homes.


8:30 p.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott maintains that state and local officials are prepared for Hurricane Matthew, even as he called the storm bearing down on the state a “monster.”

“Matthew is likely to produce devastating impacts,” Scott says.

Scott says people in the northeast part of the state still have time to evacuate and residents could still choose to go to a shelter.

Authorities have told roughly 1.5 million people across the state to evacuate. The mass exodus led to crammed highways, full hotels and the need to open dozens of hurricane shelters. The looming storm also has led to gas shortages, though Scott said the state still has five days’ worth of fuel supplies.

Officials are expecting massive power outages across the region once Hurricane Matthew hits full-force.

Although the state has food and water supplies ready for after the storm, Scott cautioned that people need to be able to take care of themselves for the first three days.


8:10 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center says the center of Hurricane Matthew is over the western end of the Grand Bahama Island and tropical storm conditions are lashing the east coast of Florida.

At 8 p.m. EDT, the storm had weakened slightly and had 130 mph (210 kph) sustained winds, down from 140 mph (225 kph). Matthew is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The storm left more than 100 dead in its wake across the Caribbean, and 2 million people across the Southeast have been warned to flee inland.

It’s the most powerful storm to threaten the U.S. Atlantic coast in more than a decade.