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Stabroek News

Eastern Caribbean islands take a hit
published: Saturday | August 18, 2007


Jamaicans line up to buy bread at the National Bakery on Half-Way Tree Road in St. Andrew yesterday, in preparation for Hurricane Dean. - Rudolph Brown/Chief Photographer

CASTRIES, St. Lucia (AP):

Hurricane Dean roared across small Eastern Caribbean islands yesterday, tearing away roofs, flooding streets and killing at least three people as it headed west on a collision course with Jamaica and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

The first hurricane of the Atlantic season grew into a Category Three storm yesterday afternoon after crossing into the warm waters of the Caribbean and is forecast to develop into a monster storm with 150 mph (240 kph) winds before hitting the Yucatan and passing into the Gulf of Mexico, where 4,000 oil and gas platforms are located.

By Wednesday, it could be threatening the United States, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry's spokeswoman suggested folks get ready.

In tiny St. Lucia, fierce winds tore corrugated metal roofs from dozens of homes and the paediatric ward of a hospital, whose patients had been evacuated hours earlier. Police spokeswoman Tamara Charles said a 62-year-old man was swept away and drowned when he tried to retrieve a cow from a rain-swollen river.

In Dominica, a woman and her seven-year-old son were killed when a rain-soaked hillside gave way and crushed the home where they were sleeping, said Cecil Shilling-ford, the national disaster coordinator.

Man died of heart attack

French authorities on the adjacent island of Martinique said a 90-year-old man died of a heart attack during the storm, but it was unclear whether Dean was a factor.

Dean was expected to have 150 mph (240 kph) winds by the time it reaches Jamaica on Sunday. It was projected to clip Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and arrive in the Gulf of Mexico by Wednesday. In Washington, the State Department was preparing to announce it would allow some U.S. diplomats in Jamaica to leave the island to avoid the storm.

People in Martinique, St. Lucia and nearby Dominica mostly stayed indoors yesterday while Dean's remnants pounded the islands with heavy rain and authorities tried to assess damage.

Many who did venture out said they were surprised the islands seem to have got off fairly easy.

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