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Caribbean braces for hit from fierce Hurricane Matthew

Makini Brice and Gabriel Stargardter

Hurricane Matthew is nearing the coastline. Photo: NOAA

Port-au-Prince: Haiti and Jamaica implored residents in vulnerable coastal areas to evacuate and Cuba suspended flights on Sunday as Hurricane Matthew, the strongest storm to menace the Caribbean islands since 2007, spun slowly toward the region.

Matthew is expected to scrape western Haiti on Monday as a major storm bringing 230km/h winds and life-threatening rain to the southern coast, while simultaneously lashing Jamaica.

Eastern Cuba also will feel bands of fierce wind and rains on Monday, the US National Hurricane centre said.

The storm was advancing northwest at 7km/h, located about 475 kilometres southeast of Kingston on Sunday afternoon. The hurricane centre ranked it at Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity.

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