Travel alerts have been issued for Florida and the US east coast as devastating Hurricane Matthew barrels north after battering Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for the Bahamas for today (Wednesday) with the storm forecast to head towards the Florida east coast later in the week.

The most powerful hurricane in almost a decade struck poverty-stricken Haiti with winds gusting up to 145mph.

The UN said the country was facing the “largest humanitarian event” since a massive earthquake in 2010.

A hurricane watch was triggered by the US National Hurricane Centre for parts of Florida, placing the state on official alert.

Florida and South Carolina have already declared states of emergency.

An evacuation order is expected in South Carolina today to enable one million people time to leave the coast before the storm hits.

Provinces in the east of Cuba are in a government-declared state of alarm as Hurricane Matthew approaches, with many airports closed, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in an updated travel advisory.

“It is probable that electricity will be cut in some areas as a precaution and communication equipment will be unreliable,” the FCO added

Cruise itineraries have been adjusted across the region by lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian and Disney Cruise Line.

Lines are closely monitoring the path of the hurricane and how it may affect arrivals and departures from ports such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral.