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Hurricane rips across Bahamas after battering Haiti.

RESCUE workers have struggled to reach towns cut off by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, with the full extent of the destruction caused still unknown after the storm battered the Bahamas and triggered evacuations along the US east coast.

At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the powerful storm during its week-long march across the Caribbean, five of them in Haiti alone.

With a key bridge washed out, roads rendered impassable and phone communications down, the western tip of Haiti is isolated with no word on the number of dead and injured.

Forecasters said the high winds, pounding rains and storm surge were already beginning to have an impact in the southern Bahamas as winds reached 125mph.

A day earlier, Matthew swept across a remote area of Haiti with 145mph winds, and government leaders said they were not even close to fully gauging the impact in the vulnerable, flood-prone country where less powerful storms have killed thousands of people living in flimsy shacks.

"What we know is that many, many houses have been damaged. Some lost rooftops and they'll have to be replaced, while others were totally destroyed," Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph said.

The hurricane rolled across the sparsely populated tip of Cuba overnight, destroying dozens of homes in its easternmost city, Baracoa, and leaving hundreds of others damaged.

There were no immediate reports of deaths or large-scale devastation, though the waves had picked up a large shipping container and dropped it three blocks inland from the shore.

By yesterday morning, Matthew was passing east of the Bahamian island of Inagua, moving over open water on a path expected to take it very near the Bahamas capital of Nassau, and then Florida's Atlantic coast by tonight.

At 1200 GMT, Matthew's eye was about 45 miles east-north-east of Cabo Lucrecia, Cuba, travelling at 10mph.

Matthew will likely pose a threat to Florida by late today and other areas of the US east coast afterwards.

Evacuations are under way in Florida and South Carolina to move people away from the vulnerable coastline.

Mandatory evacuations started in central Florida's Brevard County yesterday morning, and voluntary evacuations have been activated in St Lucie County.

State governor Rick Scott urged other coastal residents potentially in harm's way not to wait to be told to leave. Residents who live in mobile and manufactured homes also are being ordered to leave.

CAPTION(S):

<B A woman cries amid the rubble of her home, destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Baracoa, Cuba, yesterday. The hurricane destroyed dozens of homes in Baracoa Ramon Espinosa

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:5HAIT
Date:Oct 6, 2016
Words:425
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