HAVANA, Oct. 5 (UPI) — At least nine people’s deaths have been blamed on Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean on Tuesday. Some reports put the number of victims higher.
The Category 4 storm is one of the strongest hurricanes to rip through the region in years, while Florida and North Carolina have declared emergencies ahead of the storm’s arrival in the United States later this week.
Officials said five have died in Haiti and four in the neighboring Dominican Republic. In the tiny Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines one death has been reported and another as far south as Colombia.
“We’ve already seen deaths,” Interim Haitian President Jocelerme Privert told reporters. “People who were out at sea. There are people who are missing. They are people who didn’t respect the alerts. They’ve lost their lives.”
As winds of at least 130 miles per hour and heavy rain lashed the poor island nation, fallen trees knocked down power and communication lines, leaving areas cut off.
“The river has overflowed all around us,” church pastor Louis St. Germain said. “It’s terrible … a total disaster.”