Haiti is again bracing itself for natural disaster this morning as a devastating hurricane approaches the Caribbean nation.
Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 storm, is fast approaching the western tip of the country, and is expected to hit land in the early hours of this morning, UTC -05:00.
Severe weather has already battered both Haiti and neighbouring Jamaica overnight, and it is expected that the storm could bring up to 100cm of rain to the impoverished and flood prone country, which is still recovering from the earthquake disaster of 2010.
Haitian officials have already closed both of the country’s airports, and have announced that 1,300 emergency shelters have been built to accommodate as many as 340,000 people, many of them from low quality homes in city slums, which are likely to be worst affected.
Interim Haitian President Jocelerme Privert has announced that there have already been deaths, and urged citizens to heed government warnings and evacuate certain areas more prone to flash flooding.
Richard Pasch, of the US National Hurricane Center, stressed the need to find safety in the face of the impending storm.
“People who are impacted by things like flooding and mudslides hopefully would get out and relocate because that’s where we have seen loss of life in the past,” he said.
Approximately 13,000 people have already been evacuated in Dominican Republic, Haiti’s easterly neighbour, and preparations are underway in Cuba and the eastern US coast.
Haiti is one of the world’s poorest countries, and is still yet to recover from the 2010 earthquake, which it has been estimated left as many as 316,000 dead, and 1.5 million people homeless.
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