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Hurricane Gustav Near Cuba With 230 kph Winds

  • VOA News

U.S. forecasters say Hurricane Gustav's winds have strengthened to nearly 230 kilometers per hour as the deadly storm closes in on western Cuba.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center has upgraded Gustav to a category four hurricane on the scale that measures a storm's intensity.

At last report, the eye of Gustav was expected to pass over western Cuba later on Saturday.

Forecasters say the storm could produce more than a half-meter of rain in some parts of Cuba. It has claimed at least 80 lives in Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The hurricane center predicts Gustav will move into the southern Gulf of Mexico early Sunday and the northern Gulf by Monday morning.

Gustav is expected to strike the southern U.S. somewhere from western Florida to Texas.

Some U.S. Gulf coast states (Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas) have started evacuating residents.

U.S. President George Bush declared a federal state of emergency in the state of Louisiana, a likely target for the storm. Its path may include the city of New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina three years ago.

Separately, Tropical Storm Hanna is expected to move near the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean late Sunday or early Monday. Hanna had wind speeds of 85 kilometers per hour and also was expected to strengthen.

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