Among the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes lately is closing in on Haiti, bringing winds, rains and storm surges.
Hurricane Matthew, a Category Four storm, is forecast to hit the western tip of Haiti early on Tuesday.
But what the US National Hurricane Center called “life threatening” conditions are already bearing down.
Interim Haitian President Jocelerme Privert said a number of individuals have been killed.
“We have already seen deaths. You can find people who are missing. They are people who didn’t value the alarms.
The fast-approaching Matthew could bring up to 40in (102cm) of rain and winds of 145mph (230km/h), potentially triggering mudslides and flash floods.
Its centre is forecast to hit on Haiti’s south-western tip around daybreak.
Haiti is one of the world’s poorest countries and many residents live in areas prone to floods.
“Individuals who are affected by things like floods and mudslides hopefully would escape and relocate because that is where we’ve seen loss of life before.”
Authorities have urged people to stock on water and food and ensure their homes. Thousands are living in tents following a huge earthquake in 2010.
The mayor of Haiti’s largest slum in the capital Port au Prince, Frederic Hislain, called on the authorities to evacuate some 150,000 people whose homes are threatened.
Haitian officials say that shelters have been constructed, enough to admit 340,000 individuals.
But some Haitians have refused to visit shelters, fearful of having their possessions stolen.
One local in Port-au-Prince, however, said the community would unify in the face of the risk of the storm.
“We’re communicating amongst ourselves thanks to our own means. We will tell the folks how a scenario is. If things are bad then we shall come together.”