UPDATE 4-Hurricane Matthew batters Florida as Haiti death toll rises

viernes 7 de octubre de 2016 07:04 GYT

* Death toll rises to at least 339 in Haiti

* Mass evacuations in four U.S. states

* Storm's eye nears Cape Canaveral (Updates with wind speed in paragraph 2, comments from storm chaser in paragraph 4-5)

By Scott Malone and Gabriel Stargardter

ORLANDO, Fla./MIAMI, Oct 7 (Reuters) - 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.

Hurricane Matthew packed gusts of 100 miles per hour (160 kph) as it tracked north-northwest along Florida's east coast, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. The storm's eye was 25 miles (40 km) east of Cape Canaveral, home to the nation's chief space launch site.

"We are seriously ground zero here in Cape Canaveral -- hunkered down, lights flickering, winds are crazy," said resident Sandy Wilk on Twitter.

The storm downed power lines and trees and destroyed billboards in Cape Canaveral, reported Jeff Piotrowski, a 40-year-old storm chaser from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"The winds are ferocious right now," he said. "It's fierce."   Continuación...