Hurricane Matthew hits eastern Cuba 'hard'

Updated: 2016-10-05 07:34


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HAVANA - Hurricane Matthew reached eastern Cuba on Tuesday afternoon, "pounding" the area with rain and wind.

Hurricane Matthew hits eastern Cuba 'hard'

Naomi Rivera, 41, shields herself from the rain ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Guantanamo, Cuba, October 4, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

The "northern eyewall of extremely dangerous Hurricane Matthew already pounding the eastern tip of Cuba," the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest bulletin.

Cuba's state daily Granma ran images of rough seas and high waves along the country's eastern shores.

Cuban President Raul Castro personally inspected storm preparations in easternmost Cuba earlier in the day.

The category four hurricane, meaning it can pack winds of between 209 and 251 km per hour, is forecast to dump as much as 200 to 300 mm of rain, up to 500 mm in mountainous areas, and cause flooding along the island's southeastern coast, according to Granma.

Matthew earlier barreled through western Haiti, killing three people, while another remains missing, and displacing some 9,000 people.

In Cuba, more than 430,000 people have been evacuated from coastal areas prone to flooding, with the eastern provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago, Holguin, Granma and Camaguey under a "hurricane warning" since Monday.

Flights, trains and bus transport from Havana and other parts of country to the eastern provinces have been suspended until the hurricane passes.

The president was in eastern Cuba since Saturday, touring the provinces of Santiago and Guantanamo to personally oversee preparations.

The last major storm to hit Cuba was 2012's Hurricane Sandy, which caused widespread damage to southeast Cuba, killing 11 people, and went on to cause catastrophic flooding in New York City, after making an unexpected left turn into the US Eastern Seaboard as she traveled north.

Matthew is expected to turn north-northwest by Wednesday, heading to the Bahamas and the east coast of the United States.