Hurricane Matthew batters Florida as Haiti death toll rises
* Death toll rises to at least 339 in Haiti
* Mass evacuations in four U.S. states
* Storm could hit Florida directly or brush coast
By Scott Malone and Gabriel Stargardter
ORLANDO, Fla./MIAMI, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Matthew, the first major hurricane threatening a direct hit on the United States in more than 10 years, lashed Florida on Friday with heavy rains and winds after killing at least 339 people in Haiti on its destructive march north through the Caribbean.
Winds gusts of up to 60 miles per hour (100 kph) and heavy downpours were reported in several coastal communities in Florida as the eye of the Category 4 hurricane tracked along the east coast of the state early on Friday.
"We are just bracing and the winds are picking up," Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry told CNN early on Friday. "A great number of our residents have taken heed to our warnings and we are certainly concerned about those that have not."
More than 140,000 Florida households were without power, according to Governor Rick Scott. In West Palm Beach, once lit street lights and houses went dark and Interstate 95 was empty as the storm rolled through the community of 100,000 people.
Hurricane Matthew carried extremely dangerous winds of 130 mph (215 kph) as it pounded the northwestern part of the Bahamas en route to Florida's Atlantic coast earlier, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Continuación...