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Matthew smashes Atlantic coast

Grant Lynch used the Canary monitoring camera app on his iPhone to watch his oceanfront home in Palm Coast, Florida, as it was hit by large waves stirred up by Hurricane Matthew. The monitoring video shows waves pounding the home on October 7 as the eye of the storm passed along the Florida coast. Lynch was inland when Matthew swept by and plans to return to the home when safe to assess any damage. Credit: Grant Lynch

THE death toll from Hurricane Matthew has reached at least 877 in Haiti and left tens of thousands of people homeless as it ploughs north along the Atlantic coast towards Georgia and South Carolina.

Matthew is forecast to move near or over the South Carolina coast Saturday morning, the National Hurricane Center reports.

The powerful Category 2 hurricane will near North Carolina’s southern coast by Saturday night, the centre says.

“Now is the time we ask for prayer,” Gov. Nikki Haley said as she finished an update on storm preparations and bowed her head.

Matthew has sustained winds of 165 km/h and is 70km south of Hilton Head, South Carolina. It is moving north about 19km/h, the National Hurricane Center reported around 5.30pm AEST.

Hurricane Matthew — the most powerful hurricane to threaten the Atlantic Seaboard in more than a decade — set off alarms as it closed in on the U.S.

In the end, it brushed the heavily populated areas of Florida and raked the Georgia coast, including some of the state’s islands such as St. Simons and Tybee.

It comes as the United States marked its first four fatalities from Hurricane Matthew as the powerful storm lashed the Florida coast, officials said on Friday.

And it comes on top of four deaths — three of them children — in the Dominican Republic, which neighbours Haiti.

At least 4500 flights were cancelled between Wednesday and Saturday, according to tracking service FlightAware. All flights to and from Orlando are cancelled on Friday and half scrapped Saturday. FlightAware expects that number to rise.

Orlando’s world-famous theme parks — Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld — all closed due to the storm.

But the storm’s worst “is likely still to come”, US officials have warned.

“This storm is a monster,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said at a Friday evening news conference.

“Matthew is likely to produce devastating impacts along portions of the east coast tonight.”

Follow latest developments in the live blog below: