Santo Domingo (AFP) - Hurricane Matthew killed four people, including three children, when it slammed into the Dominican Republic, officials said Tuesday, bringing the total death toll from the storm to at least seven.
Two children were killed when their home collapsed on them in the poor hillside neighborhood of Capotillo, in the capital Santo Domingo, said an AFP reporter at the scene.
Another died in similar circumstances in the nearby neighborhood of Puya, while a man was killed when a wall fell and crushed him in a district of the capital known as Manoguayabo.
The Category Four hurricane barreled into the island of Hispaniola, which the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti, shortly after daybreak Tuesday, packing maximum sustained winds of around 230 kilometers (145 miles) per hour.
At least three people have been reported killed in Haiti.
In both countries, the victims lost their lives as gale-force winds and rain lashed the island overnight, even before Matthew made landfall. Officials warned the death toll could still rise.
Dominican officials said they had been forced to evacuate some 800 people. Nearly 18,000 others are sheltering with family or friends.
The country's Center for Emergency Operations said the storm damaged nearly 200 homes and cut off 31 towns.
It declared a red alert in 19 provinces, including along the Haitian border.
Dominican officials warned that heavy rains and winds of up to 60 kilometers an hour "could last for several hours" around the capital.