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SERVICES 
Sunday, 7 October, 2001, 05:32 GMT 06:32 UK
Hurricane Iris threatens Caribbean
Coastline with wind and high waves
The Dominican Republic coast was lashed by winds
Three people have been killed in the Dominican Republic as Hurricane Iris sweeps across the Caribbean towards Jamaica.

A mother and her two children, were killed in the capital, Santo Domingo, after torrential rain and crushed the wooden shack they were living in.

During Saturday, Iris was upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane as its winds strengthened to more than 120km/h (75mph).

Girl playing as waves mount
Some enjoyed the wild weather

Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba have issued hurricane warnings as Iris sweeps on in a north-westerly direction.

About 8cm (3in) of rain fell on Saturday in the Dominican Republic, and there were tide surges of more than 1.2 metres ( 4 to 5 ft).

The government of Haiti, which lies to the west of the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola, has advised inhabitants on the south coast and in low-lying areas to move to higher ground.

Open sea

After crossing Haiti, Hurricane Iris will cross open water.

A spokesman for the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Richard Knabb, said: "As it gets into open water, we expect it to develop more rapidly."

Jamaican fishermen pushing boats up beach
Jamaican fishermen prepare for the storm

It could then hit Jamaica close to the capital, Kingston, and travel through the centre of the island on Sunday.

If the hurricane continues in the same direction, it could strike the tourist area in north-west Jamaica by Sunday evening.

Iris started on Thursday as a tropical depression that brought strong winds and heavy rainfall to the islands of St Vincent and St Lucia, but caused no significant damage or loss of life.

A tropical storm is classified as a hurricane if maximum winds reach 119km/h (74mph).

The hurricane season in the Caribbean occurs from June to the end of November.

See also:

28 Sep 01 | Americas
Mexico's deadly hurricane eases
19 Feb 00 | Washington 2000
Decades of major hurricanes ahead
17 Jan 00 | Sci/Tech
Hurricanes set to grow fiercer
18 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
Nature's lethal weapons
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