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MATTHEW BATTERS REGION

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It started late last month as a Tropical depression, then storm and is now one of the most powerful hurricanes in a decade as Hurricane Matthew sets its sights on the entire Bahamas islands chain after killing nearly a dozen people in Haiti and other islands, causing flooding an infrastructural damage in Jamaica and Cuba and by the weekend should be causing trouble on mainland America.

Prime Minister Perry Christie and other storm-conscious Bahamians watched with concern as Matthew pounded nearby Haiti and the Dominican Republic with its, urging citizens to “brace for a worst case scenario” because its very size will pummel each of the tourist paradise’s 700 islands. Only 20 are inhabited.

New Providence, just off the coast of Florida and where the bulk of the country’s 300,000 people lives was expected “to take a direct hit” Christie said as the eye of Matthew was projected to pass right over the island favored by millions of tourists from around the world.

But even as Bahamians worried about the coming of the mega storm with winds above 140 miles per hour, officials in nearby Bermuda and international weather forecasters put Bermuda on alert because Tropical Storm Nicole had formed in an area near Matthew.

This time of the year is normally regarded as the peak portion of the annual hurricane season because the storms are easily fed by warm waters in the Atlantic after months of hot summer weather. The season starts in June and quits at the end of November though in recent years a number of December storms have been observed by forecasters.

Weather experts also said that Nicole is already roaring at 50 miles per hour with winds gusting above 80 miles per hour at times. Nicole was located off Puerto Rico.

The Bermudan cabinet has already closed some small island airports since Tuesday night and the remainder, including the main international aerodrome, were scheduled for a lockdown before midday Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the United Nations says that Matthew was the worst natural disaster to hit impoverished Haiti after the early 2010 earthquake that is believed to have easily killed 300,000 people.

News agencies said Haiti accounted for five Haitian deaths, four in neighboring Dominican Republic as well as one each in Colombia and another in St. Vincent. Dozens were also injured in Hispaniola, the colonial era name for the very large island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Officials at the Caribbean Community secretariat in Guyana including spokesman Leonard Robertson said that authorities were waiting for the situation to clear to get a full assessment of the impact of Matthew.

This is even as he said that the Barbados-based regional emergency response system was on standby to move in to assess the situation. Trinidad has already said it will send material and other forms of help to Haiti.

While officials are waiting, the United States is already heeding a request for help from Port au Prince with the USS George Washington steaming towards the island accompanied by marine helicopters as most bridges have collapsed and roads washed away.

There was, however, more comforting news for Cuba, one of the regional bloc’s closest allies. Officials said that while the island was pounded by heavy winds and rain, no serious damage was reported in the eastern provinces that were most threatened.

More than 300,000 people evacuated from various districts and 700 families moved from the Guantanamo Bay area where the United States is holding about 60 alleged Middle Eastern terrorists at a special prison.

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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