Matthew is the Caribbean's strongest storm in nearly a decade. Photograph: (AFP)
Emergency evacuations were activated in Jamaica and Haiti as floods and high winds from Hurricane Matthew threatens to wreak havoc
The US National Hurricane Centre warned that the center of the hurricane will approach Jamaica and southwestern Haiti on Monday, in possibly the most powerful storm to hit the Carribean. Hurricane Matthew threatens to produce devastating flash floods and mud slides.
Haiti began preparing for the storm evacuating residents by boats from remote islands. Albert Moulion, Haiti's interior ministry spokesman, "We have already started evacuations," he said. "The national center of emergency operations has been activated."The hurricane will also touch Jamaica's southern coast, the US National Hurricane Center is expecting up to 40 inches of rainfall in Haiti and 25 inches in Jamaica.
The Jamaican government was placing some 2,000 homeless people in shelters, Desmond McKenzie, minister of local government and community development said. He also said the army reserves had been called to help limit the damage.
"The hurricane will cause an interruption, obviously, in our economic activities here," Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Reuters in an interview on Saturday. "We have allocated all the resources we can given our fiscal restraints and I think that the country is prepared for the hurricane," he added. Jamaica has been going through an economic slowdown and the damage from the storm is expected to imapct the economy further.
Residents in Kingston, Jamaica's capital were stocking up on food and other necessities before the storm hit. A warning was also issued to fishermen to stay away from the seas.
Moving up the coast packing winds of up to 160 miles (260 kilometres) per hour, the storm claimed its first fatality on Friday in Colombia.
La Guajira's governor, Jorge Velez, said a 67-year-old man had drowned, "Yes, unfortunately, a man was taken by a stream in Uribia. He was missing this morning. We were informed that the person was found drowned and this marks the first victim that, unfortunately, we have had at this point for the hurricane," Reuters reported.
(WION with inputs from agencies)