Hurricane Matthew: one dead, one missing in Haiti

Hurricane Matthew has left one person dead and another missing in Haiti, officials said Monday, as it churns through the Caribbean as the worst storm in nearly a decade.

A boat with three fishermen capsized Friday off the coast of southern Haiti. Two managed to make it ashore but the body of the other was found later, civil protection authorities said.

Another boat was broken up by rough seas off the same coast Sunday. Three people were rescued but the fourth is missing.

The Category 4 hurricane packing maximum sustained winds of 145 mile per hour was nearing the southeast peninsula of the country early this morning, and life-threatening rain, wind and storm surge had begun spreading over portions of the impoverished nation.

A turn toward the north-northwest is expected by tomorrow, followed by a northwest turn later in the night, the NHC said.

On the forecast track, the centre of Matthew will pass near or over southwestern Haiti during the next few hours.

One of the biggest concerns for Haiti, which is still struggling to fully recover more than six years after the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country, is flooding. Forecasters say Matthew is expected to produce total rainfall amounts of 15 to 25 inches of rain in southern Haiti and southwestern Dominican Republic, with isolated amounts of 40 inches.

Northwestern Haiti could get 8 to 12 inches, with isolated amounts of 20 inches; and northeastern Haiti and the northern Dominican Republic are projected to get 1 to 3 inches, with isolated amounts of 5 inches.

“Hurricane conditions are beginning to reach the southwestern portion of Haiti and will spread northward today,” the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said in its 5 a.m. bulletin.

Forecasters say Matthew is the most powerful storm in the Caribbean since Hurricane Felix in 2007.

The US National Hurricane Center has forecast storm surges of up to three meters (10 feet) off Haiti’s southern coast.