Hurricane Matthew threatens more death and destruction

The most powerful Atlantic storm since 2007 has killed over 1,000 people in the Caribbean nation of Haiti and 17 people in the United States as it heads out to sea.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

An abandoned truck lies in submerged waters after Hurricane Matthew hit Lumberton, North Carolina October 9, 2016.

The number of people killed in Haiti by Hurricane Matthew hit 1,000 people on Sunday, as the country battled deaths from cholera and some authorities had to start burying the dead in mass graves.

The powerful hurricane, the fiercest Caribbean storm in nearly a decade, slammed into Haiti on Tuesday, whipping it with 230 km/h winds and torrential rains.

Destroyed houses are seen after Hurricane Matthew passes in Corail, Haiti, October 8, 2016.

A Reuters tally of numbers from local officials showed that 1,000 people were killed by the storm in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas.

The official death toll from the central civil protection agency is 336, a slower count because officials must visit each village to confirm the numbers.

Authorities had to start burying the dead in mass graves in Jeremie as the bodies were starting to decompose, Kedner Frenel, the most senior central government official in the Grand'Anse region on Haiti's western peninsula.

Frenel said 522 people died in Grand'Anse alone.

Destroyed houses are seen after Hurricane Matthew passes in Jeremie, Haiti, October 8, 2016.

A tally of death reported by mayors from 15 of 18 municipalities in Sud Department on the south side of the peninsula showed 386 people there. In the rest of the country, 92 people died, the same tally showed.

Frenel said there was great concern about the cholera spreading, and that authorities were focused on getting water, food and medication to the thousands of people living in shelters.

Cholera causes severe diarrhoea and can kill within hours if untreated. It is spread through contaminated water and has a short incubation period, which leads to rapid outbreaks.

Government teams fanned out across the hard-hit southwestern tip of the country over the weekend to repair treatment centres and reach the epicentre of one outbreak.

People use a handmade ladder after the bridge has been destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Chantal, Haiti.

US Coast

Raging North Carolina rivers are still rising as Matthew threatens up to a week more of death and destruction, the state's governor said on Sunday as the storm's remnant headed out to sea, leaving a path of carnage from the Caribbean up the US Southeast coast.

Matthew, the most powerful Atlantic storm since 2007, was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone on Sunday after its rampage through the Caribbean killed nearly 900 people in Haiti.

In the United States, the death toll rose to 17 people, and more than 2 million US homes and business lost power.

A van squeezes past a partially fallen tree on Meeting Street as Hurricane Matthew hits Charleston, South Carolina October 8, 2016.

With five people reported missing and rivers rising, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said he expected more deaths. Eight people in the state have died so far, he said, raising the count by one, and several rivers are swelling to records and will not crest for days.

Many coastal and inland communities were still under water, either from coastal storm surge or overrun rivers and creeks, and dangerous conditions existed from downed power lines and damaged homes.

All 2,000 residents of Princeville, the oldest town in the United States incorporated by African Americans, were told on Sunday afternoon to evacuate due to the risk of flash floods.

A resident walks through flood waters next to a partially submerged car on East Battery Street at the southern-most tip of the city as Hurricane Matthew hits Charleston, South Carolina October 8, 2016.

Deputies went from house to house to spread the word about the mandatory order.

The town, which was devastated by Hurricane Floyd in 1999, lies on the Tar River about 40 km north of Greenville.

The river is projected to set a flood record of 8.7 meters, about 3 meters higher than normal at nearby Rocky Mount later on Sunday, Assistant Fire Chief Ronnie Raper said.

Several dams have breached in the area around Cumberland County, south of Raleigh, Michael Martin, fire marshal for the city of Fayetteville, said by phone.

Storm surge pours over the sea wall onto a flooded section of East Battery Street at the southern-most tip of the city as Hurricane Matthew arrives in Charleston, South Carolina late October 7, 2016.

Swiftwater rescue teams are still on alert and there have been 255 water rescue calls and 701 people rescued, he said.

"Hurricane Matthew is off the map, but it is still with us and it is still deadly," Governor McCrory said, forecasting a week of "life and death" threats.

Dramatic Rescue

The storm centre was about 320 km off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and heading away from land, according to the National Hurricane Center's 2100 GMT report.

It discontinued all tropical storm warnings.

The storm still packed hurricane force winds as far as 150 km from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds 390 km away.

A man walks through floods on East Battery Street as storm surge and rain water from Hurricane Matthew hit Charleston, South Carolina, US October 8, 2016.

US President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Georgia and Florida, freeing up federal money to help the states repair damaged infrastructure and remove debris.

Florida reported five storm-related deaths, Georgia three and South Carolina one.

McCrory said 334 rescue workers risked their lives carrying out 877 rescues overnight.

"These rescue teams, I've got to let you know, they are extremely exhausted at this time," McCrory said.

In one of the dramatic rescues in North Carolina, out-of-state firefighters helped save three people from the roof of an SUV in inland Cumberland County, where more than 500 rescues took place.

Flood waters submerge the historic city market area as Hurricane Matthew hits Charleston, South Carolina October 8, 2016.

Flash flooding turned a creek into a "roaring, raging river" that swept the vehicle off the roadway on Saturday night, said Battalion Chief Joe Downey of the Fire Department of New York.

He was part of a team from three states that carried out 64 rescues on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

"Water was almost up to the roof of the SUV," Downey said in a telephone interview.

"It was bad. They had nowhere to go."In Florence County, South Carolina, a vehicle trying to cross a flooded roadway was swept away by flood waters, killing one person, Governor Nikki Haley said.

A truck passes through flooded water at a business after Hurricane Matthew passed through in Savannah, Georgia October 8, 2016.

Elsewhere in her state, coastal officials asked evacuees to wait to return and Charleston residents raked out storm drains and cleared debris near their homes.

In Virginia, where more than 300,000 customers lost power, the city of Norfolk declared a state of emergency and urged its citizens to remain off the road, while the city of Virginia Beach closed all parks, recreation centres, libraries and the Virginia Aquarium.