Hundreds dead in Haiti storm disaster

PORT AU PRINCE - The death toll in Haiti as a result of Hurricane Matthew - the most powerful Caribbean storm in a decade - has soared to more than 300, officials say.

Some 50 people were reported killed in the town of Roche-a-Bateau alone.

The nearby city of Jeremie saw 80% of its buildings levelled. In Sud province 30,000 homes were destroyed.

The hurricane, now a Category Three storm with sustained winds of 120mph (193km/h), is heading towards the US state of Florida.

At 04:00 local time (08:00 GMT) Matthew was still off the Florida coast, centred about 45 miles (70km) east of Melbourne and was moving north-west at about 14mph (22km/h), the National Hurricane Center said.

Senator Herve Fourcand from southern Haiti told AFP news agency that more than 300 people had died. An unnamed official quoted by Reuters news agency put the death toll at 339.

Hurricane Matthew has pounded the Bahamas after slicing through Haiti and Cuba.

Trees and power lines were reportedly down in the Bahamas but no fatalities were reported.

Most of the deaths in Haiti were in towns and fishing villages around the southern coast, with many killed by falling trees, flying debris and swollen rivers.

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