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Hurricane Matthew downgraded to Category 1 storm as it hits southeastern US coast

President Barack Obama has declared federal states of emergency in Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. Photograph: (Getty)

Jacksonville, FL, United States Oct 08, 2016, 05.09 PM (IST)

Hurricane Matthew hit Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in the United States after killing almost 900 people in Haiti but was reduced to a category 1 storm on Saturday.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) downgraded the storm to a Category 1 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds subsiding to a still dangerous 75 miles (130 kilometers) per hour, AFP reported.

"The combination of a dangerous storm surge, the tide, and large and destructive waves will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline," the NHC said.

The Matthew appeared to be diminishing after hitting the southern coast of South Carolina after causing power outages in Florida and claiming at least four lives.

In Florida, 775,000 were without power, according to state utilities, while in South Carolina 433,000 had no power, Governor Nikki Haley said, Reuters reported. Florida governor Rick Scott told Reuters that more than 6,000 people stayed in shelters on Friday night.

"We're all blessed that Matthew stayed off our coast," he said, though he also described extensive flooding, damaged roads, downed trees and homes without electricity. He predicted most people would have power back by Sunday evening.

"The weather experts have described Matthew as a once in a 100-year type of storm," said Mayor Lenny Curry in Jacksonville, Florida.

Matthew triggered mass evacuations and cities were under curfew as the storm accelerated along the US coast from Florida through Georgia and into South Carolina and North Carolina.

Cities including Savannah and Charleston in South Carolina were under dusk-to-dawn curfews to keep people off the streets and guard against looting.

Streets in Charleston were flooding up to the top of the tires. However, the officials did not report any deaths, injuries or significant structural damage.

President Barack Obama has declared federal states of emergency in Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina.

A US Navy ship transport dock ship was en route to Haiti to support relief efforts. The US government was also airlifting in blankets, hygiene kits, kitchen sets and plastic sheeting for emergency shelters, a statement by the United States Agency for International Development said.

The storm caused major flooding and left a trail of destruction across the Caribbean coast. Tens of thousands were left homeless in Haiti earlier this week before it skirted Florida's Atlantic coast on Friday.

(WION with inputs from agencies)

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