UPDATE 7-Caribbean fears for coastal families as Hurricane Matthew gets close

domingo 2 de octubre de 2016 23:30 GYT

* Slow-moving storm threatens to bring flash floods

* Matthew is strongest Caribbean cyclone in 9 years

* Jamaica streets flood as rain lashes island (Updates storm position)

By Makini Brice and Gabriel Stargardter

LES CAYES, Haiti/KINGSTON, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Haiti and Jamaica urged residents in vulnerable coastal areas to evacuate and Cuba suspended flights on Sunday as bands of rain from Hurricane Matthew, the strongest storm to menace Caribbean nations since 2007, drenched the Jamaican capital.

Matthew's slow-moving center was expected to come near southwestern Haiti and Jamaica on Monday as a major storm bringing winds of 145 miles per hour (230 kph) and life-threatening rain, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Eastern Cuba would also feel bands of fierce wind and rain on Monday, the agency said.

"We are very worried by the situation," Haitian Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph said at an operations center in Port-au-Prince. "We want everybody to know that it is real."

He said 1,300 shelters had been set up, with the capacity to hold 340,000 people. Some two thousand people refused to leave their seaside homes in the coastal town of La Savanne and the government was ready to use force if needed, Anick Joseph said.   Continuación...