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Tuesday, September 22, 1998 Published at 00:44 GMT 01:44 UK

World: Americas

Hurricane Georges hits Haiti

Soldiers patrol Santo Domingo in the wake of the hurricane

Hurricane Georges, which has already claimed at least 12 lives, has struck Haiti.

Winds of more than 100mph battered the island's northern coast, ripping off roofs and forcing residents to flee to higher ground.

Georges' trail of destruction through the Caribbean could take it to the Florida Keys by Friday.

Mark Percy: "No-one's taking any chances"
People are also on alert in eastern Cuba and the south-eastern Bahamas while meteorologists in Florida are tracking the hurricane's course.

The storm caused serious damage in Puerto Rico, knocking out electricity and water supplies

A radio reporter in the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, said many of the poorer areas on the outskirts of the city had sustained serious damage.

[ image: Homes were destroyed in Antigua]
Homes were destroyed in Antigua
The National Hurricane Centre in the United States says the winds have slowed but there is still considerable danger.

The US authorities in the Florida Keys island chain are standing by to evacuate people.

Dominican President Leonel Fernandez urged residents to head to safe areas.

"It is imperative that those who are in danger go to the designated refuges, stay calm and pay attention to the news bulletins which will be broadcast by radio and television stations," he said.

Liz Throssell reports from Miami on the progress of Hurricane Georges
Streets were deserted as Georges swirled across the republic of eight million. The government declared a state of emergency and shut down the capital's international airport and all schools.

Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 95km (60 miles), and tropical storm-force winds up to 280km (175 miles).

US President Bill Clinton has declared Puerto Rico and the nearby US Virgin Islands disaster areas and authorised federal funds to help the clear-up efforts.

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University of Wisconsin-Madison: Animated Satellite images of Hurricane Georges

American Red Cross: Are You Ready for a Hurricane?

National Hurricane Centre: Hurricane Georges updates


University of Wisconsin-Madison: Hurricane Georges

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