PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Hurricane Matthew has killed at least 39 people, the death toll in struggling Haiti alone rising to 35, local officials said, as the storm headed northward on Thursday battering the Bahamas en route to Florida.
Haiti´s civil protection service put the toll in the impoverished Caribbean nation at 23 dead, many killed by falling trees, flying debris and swollen rivers. The interior ministry and a local mayor confirmed 12 other deaths to Reuters across Haiti.
Four people were killed earlier in neighboring Dominican Republic.
Matthew is the strongest hurricane in the Caribbean since Felix struck in 2007. On Tuesday and Wednesday it whipped Cuba and Haiti with 140 mile-per-hour winds and torrential rain, pummeling towns and destroying livestock, crops and homes.
The devastation in Haiti prompted authorities to postpone a presidential election originally planned for Sunday.
Reporting by Joseph Guyler Delva; Writing by Simon Gardner