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2M U.S. residents urged to evacuate over Hurricane Matthew; Florida deploys more National Guard troops

By Andrew V. Pestano
1/5
2M U.S. residents urged to evacuate over Hurricane Matthew; Florida deploys more National Guard troops
A man is seen on a kite board in the ocean waves off Lake Worth Beach, Floridan while waiting for the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. October 6, 2016. A state of emergency was declared in the state by Governor Scott on Wednesday as Hurricane Matthew could hit the east coast of Florida as a category 4 storm. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Oct. 6 (UPI) -- More than 2 million people have been urged to evacuate and nearly1,500 flights have been canceled in the United States as Hurricane Matthew churned through the Bahamas, taking aim for the U.S. East Coast.

At least 25 deaths have been attributed to Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean, mostly in Haiti. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina state officials have urged residents to evacuate if their homes are in Matthew's potential path of destruction.

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"Do not surf. Do not go on the beach. This will kill you," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said during a Thursday press conference. "There is no reason not to leave."

Scott suspended traffic tolls in counties where evacuations are in effect for the hurricane.

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Scott also activated an additional 1,000 National Guard troops to assist with hurricane relief efforts, bringing the total of deployed National Guard members in the state to 2,500.

Travel through the Caribbean and in south Florida has been disrupted by the storm. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport closed at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, canceling dozens of flights, while more than 250 flights have been canceled at the Miami International Airport since Tuesday.

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"Upon suspension of services, airport guests will no longer be allowed into the airport. Please seek alternate shelter locations during this time, as the airport is not a shelter," the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport said in a statement. "At this time, we have not determined when services will be restored."

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FlightAware reported 1,490 flights had been canceled Thursday in the United States and some 3,435 were delayed.

Most major airlines have granted fee waivers to travelers whose plans have been disrupted by Matthew.

Matthew, a Category 4 hurricane early Thursday, is heading north in the Caribbean toward the northwestern Bahamas and near the Florida coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

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