A weakened Hurricane Matthew made landfall in South Carolina, nearing the end of a four-day rampage that left a trail of death and destruction across the Caribbean and up the southeastern US coast, now swamped by record floods.
In Haiti, where Matthew was a monster Category 4 when it slammed into the poorest country in the western hemisphere Tuesday, the official death toll rose to at least 336.Nine were killed in the United States.
The interim president of Haiti, Jocelerme Privert, announced three days of national mourning, beginning today.
The scope of the devastation in the south of the Caribbean country was becoming clearer but the toll remains provisional due to the difficulty of gaining access to some areas.
At least 336 people were dead, the head of Haiti’s civil protection services, Marie-Alta Jean Baptiste, told AFP. “We won’t have a definitive toll before Wednesday,” she said.
Other officials said earlier that at least 400 were dead.
Half a million children live in the worst-hit departments in southern Haiti, according to UNICEF, which said it needed at least USD 5 million to meet their immediate needs.
Pledges of aid have flooded in, with the United States announcing it was sending the USS Mesa Verde, whose 300 Marines will add to the 250 personnel and nine helicopters already ordered to deploy to Haiti.
France announced it was sending 60 troops, with 32 tonnes of humanitarian supplies and water purification equipment.
California-based charity International Relief Teams said it was donating $7 million in medical supplies with international organizations MAP International and Hope for Haiti.
Matthew, downgraded to the lowest-level Category 1 hurricane, lashed the coast of South Carolina as the storm moved inland. It then approached coastal North Carolina on Sunday, with record flooding expected.
Despite flooding, fallen trees and power outages, most of the American southeast appeared to have been spared catastrophic damage as the storm surge turned out to be less severe than expected.
At 0600 GMT, Matthew was just 50 kilometers south southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
“Matthew should move near or just south of the coast of North Carolina this morning and east of the North Carolina coast by this afternoon,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami forecast.
As Matthew approached — after storming through Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas — millions of Americans were ordered to evacuate and curfews were slapped on cities.