Deadly tropical storm upgraded to hurricane

  • 30/09/2016
(Reuters / file)
(Reuters / file)

Tropical Storm Matthew has strengthened to a hurricane after triggering flooding and landslides on eastern Caribbean islands that killed one person, and was forecast to grow more powerful as it heads toward Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba.

Packing winds of up to 120k/mh, Matthew was about 240km northeast of Curacao and travelling westward, the US National Hurricane Center said.

Matthew whipped through the Caribbean islands of Barbados, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday (local time), shutting international airports, ripping down power lines and trees, and forcing residents into shelters.

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told reporters on Thursday one death had been reported in connection with the storm.

He said there were 350 people in shelters in his country. In St Lucia, floods and landslides threatened villages, sending some residents into shelters.

The storm is expected to veer off its westerly path and head north to Jamaica and Haiti on Sunday, bringing winds as strong as 160km/h, the Miami-based hurricane centre said.

Some projections show Matthew reaching the US eastern seaboard next week, but forecasters warn it is difficult to predict the course so far in advance.