Updated: 06/10/16 : 12:57:32
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World :: Hurricane Matthew in direct hit path for Florida

Florida residents have been warned to prepare for a "direct hit", as Hurricane Matthew pounded the Bahamas after devastating parts of Haiti.

Damage could be "catastrophic", the state governor said. Evacuation orders have been issued along the coast.

Matthew, with winds of 125mph (205km/h), is expected to strengthen and hit Florida as a Category Four storm, US officials say.

It has swept across the Caribbean, with the worst of the damage in Haiti.

At least 22 people have been killed in Haiti and thousands displaced. The storm has forced the presidential election there to be postponed.

Four people were also killed in the neighbouring Dominican Republic.

As of 09:00 GMT, the storm was strengthening over north-western Bahamas. All air and sea traffic has been halted and people urged to move to higher ground because of storm surges.

Hurricane Matthew was expected to pass near Grand Bahama Island and "move very close" to the east coast of the Florida peninsula on Thursday night, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

"Everyone in our state must prepare now for a direct hit," Florida Governor Rick Scott told a news conference.

"If Matthew directly impacts Florida, the destruction could be catastrophic and you need to be prepared."

Some two million people have been advised to evacuate across coastal areas of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. North Carolina could also be affected as the storm moves north.

US President Barack Obama said: "If there is an evacuation order in your community, you need to take it seriously."