CLOSE to 300 are dead in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, as the enormous and destructive storm bears down on the United States.

The hurricane has been upgraded to a Category Four storm -- the second most severe classification.

Haitian officials now estimate the death toll to have reached 283.

Matthew is the most powerful storm to strike the Caribbean in nearly a decade, according to the BBC, and has struck the Bahamas after first hitting Haiti and Cuba.

The bulk of the deaths in Haiti have been in fishing towns and small villages, as falling trees, debris and swollen rivers ravaged the regions.

The United Nations estimates that 350,000 people are in need of help.

 

More than 100 dead as Hurricane Matthew looms over US

THREE million people are fleeing America's southeast coast as Hurricane Matthew leaves a deadly trail of destruction on its way to Florida.

The devastating Category Four hurricane  killed at least 108 people in Haiti and there are fears the death toll will climb.

Nine News reports about 29,000 homes were destroyed in one region, leaving 10s of thousands of people displaced.

"The situation is catastrophic. The situation is critical," Haitian President Jocelerme Privert said.

As the storm heads to Florida, President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency.

"We hope for the best, but we want to prepare for the worst," Mr Obama said.

Florida Governor Rick Scott told residents and business owners to get out before they were killed.

"This is serious," Mr Scott told reporters.

"This storm will kill you. Time is running out." - ARM NEWSDESK


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