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Hurricane Matthew bears down on Florida, leaving destruction in its wake

Residents of Florida and other parts of the US are bracing for Hurricane Matthew. The storm turned deadly as it hit Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Authorities in Florida have issued hurricane and tropical storm warnings for parts of Florida on Wednesday as Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 hurricane, moves on after destructively passing through Cuba and the Dominican Republic. 

The storm will likely hit the Bahamas next.

"We're worried because we do not control nature," said Perry Christie, the prime minister of the Bahamas.

In South Carolina, US authorities have ordered the first evacuations as coastal dwellers prepared to flee the approaching monster storm, expected off the US East Coast later this week.

"It's not going to be a fast evacuation," South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said late Tuesday. "It could take up to several hours. If you can leave early, do that."

South Carolina will attempt to evacuate 1.1 million people at least 160 kilometers (95 miles) from the coast starting Wednesday. Parts of Georgia, Florida and North Carolina have declared states of emergency.

USA Südostküste wappnet sich für Hurrikan Matthew (picture alliance/ZUMAPress/M. Lorenzino)

Florida residents prepare for the storm

Earlier, Matthew brought 145 mile-per-hour (230 kph) winds to Haiti's southwestern tip, knocking down trees, tearing off roofs, and causing floods and mudslides. More than 9,000 Haitians evacuated to temporary shelters at area schools and churches, the Interior Ministry announced.

Though the full scope of the damage remained unclear, authorities confirmed that the initial death toll stood at nine - five in Haiti and four in the Dominican Republic. The two countries share the island of Hispaniola, which was hit hard by the storm. The death toll appeared likely to rise. The storm also led to the collapse of a bridge, cutting off the only road linking the capital, Port-au-Prince, to the peninsula that makes up southern Haiti.

"It's going to be difficult to find an alternative route," civil protection spokesman Edgar Celestin told the news agency AFP late Tuesday.

About 1 million people were evacuated from Cuba's coastal areas. The Pentagon reported evacuating 700 family members and 65 pets from its Guantanamo naval base and prison compound on Cuba's eastern tip.

Watch video 01:19

Hurricane Matthew moves on from Caribbean to the US

mkg/bw (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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