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Flights, church services cancelled in Bermuda as Hurricane Joaquin approaches

Published:Sunday | October 4, 2015 | 10:36 AM

HAMILTON, Bermuda, CMC -Incoming flights have been cancelled as well as church services at the Anglican Church as powerful Hurricane Joaquin bore down on Bermuda packing 115 miles per hour winds after earlier causing death and destruction in The Bahamas.

In its 8 a.m. EDT bulletin, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said Joaquin  remained a Category Three storm, down from a strong Category Four storm on Saturday when it had sustained winds of 155 mph.The NHC added that further weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours.Conditions were already deteriorating in Bermuda with three to five inches of rain expected through Sunday.

The hurricane was located 160 nautical miles southwest of Bermuda moving to the northeast at around 21 mph.

The Bermuda Weather Service said Joaquin's closest point of approach to the island is forecast to be 62 nautical miles to the west-northwest at 9 p.m. local time.

The Ministry of Transport late Saturday said all flights to the island on Sunday - with the exception of Delta Air Lines which had yet to confirm its position -- had been cancelled although American Airlines' early-morning flights to Miami and New York were expected to go ahead.

Sunday's ferry services were scrapped and bus service was due to be suspended at 10 a.m. local time.

Two cruise ships -- the Carnival Sunshine and Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas -- earlier announced the cancellation of scheduled visits to the island.

Hardware stores on Saturday reported brisk business as homeowners made last-minute preparations for Joaquin -- 12 months after two hurricanes, Fay and Gonzalo, struck the island within five days of each other, causing widespread power outages.

Michele Trott, a clerk at one store, said: "We've been really, really busy. People were lined up outside the gate before we opened this morning."

She added: "People are mostly buying lumber, batteries, flashlights, ropes and tarpaulins to get ready for the weather that's coming."