Haiti bears brunt of Hurricane Matthew as death toll hits 69
A flooded river and destroyed houses are seen after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The death toll from Hurricane Matthew rose to at least 69 people, including 65 in struggling Haiti, local officials said, as the storm headed northward on Thursday to the Bahamas and Florida.

Haiti´s civil protection service put the toll in the impoverished Caribbean nation at 23 dead with many of them killed by falling trees, flying debris and swollen rivers. The Interior Ministry, a mayor and other local officials confirmed 42 other deaths to Reuters across Haiti.

That included 24 people killed in the coastal town of Roche-a-Bateau.

"I've never seen anything like this," said the town's delegate, Louis Paul Raphael.

Four people were killed earlier in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

Matthew is the strongest hurricane in the Caribbean since Felix in 2007. On Tuesday and Wednesday it whipped Cuba and Haiti with 140 mile-per-hour (225 kph) winds and torrential rain, pummeling towns, crops and homes and killing livestock.

The devastation in Haiti prompted authorities to postpone a presidential election scheduled for Sunday.

(Reporting by Joseph Guyler Delva; Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Bill Trott)