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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 20:51 GMT 21:51 UK
US coast braced for Hurricane Lili
Cow grazes in wreckage of Cuban home
Cuba was badly battered but no-one was killed
The Gulf Coast of the United States is bracing itself for Hurricane Lili after it swept across Cuba, uprooting trees and destroying homes.

Storm warnings were issued around the Gulf of Mexico as Lili was upgraded to a category four hurricane with winds roaring at nearly 217 kilometres (135 miles) per hour.

Offshore oil and natural gas rigs have been shut down for the second day running and refineries have been forced to halt operations.

Forecasters predict that the storm will make landfall on Thursday, perhaps near the coastal town of Cameron in southwestern Louisiana.

The US space agency Nasa decided to postpone Wednesday's launch of the shuttle Atlantis in Florida, as the storm threatened mission control in Houston, Texas.

The hurricane has already cut a swathe of destruction through Cuba, damaging buildings and farmland and disrupting communications, all in the space of 90 minutes on Tuesday.

Some 360,000 people were evacuated from their homes on the island as winds picked up a speed of more than 85 mph.

Schools in the capital, Havana, and in the western Pinar del Rio province closed down, planes were grounded and rail services suspended.

But Cuban President Fidel Castro, visiting the province, said the cash-strapped country had the foodstuffs and building materials to deal with the damage.

He said that Lili had caused less damage than Hurricane Michelle in 2001 - which reached category four.

No one was killed in Cuba on this occasion, but Lili left at least seven people dead in Jamaica and St Vincent and also caused damage in the Cayman Islands.

Gathering strength

From High Island, Texas, all the way to Florida, people are bracing themselves for the storm.


Lili could strengthen into a category 3 hurricane

Miami National Hurricane Centre

Lili is the second hurricane to batter the region in less than two weeks. Hurricane Isidore also left a trail of damage.

Mexico has declared a tropical storm watch for the north coast of Yucatan from Cozumel to Progreso.

Lili developed from a tropical storm on Monday as it tore across the Cayman Islands, uprooting trees and knocking out electricity supplies.

Elsewhere in the region, Tropical Storm Kyle is posing a growing threat to Bermuda.

Forecasters said that after days drifting in the Atlantic Ocean, Kyle was showing signs of growing in the next few days.

Hurricane Lili is seen over Cuba in shortwave infra red satellite image released by NOAA

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 ON THIS STORY
Cuban journalist Moises Saab
"The winds are blowing at 70 miles per hour"
See also:

12 Nov 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
02 Oct 02 | Science/Nature
23 Sep 02 | Americas
18 Sep 00 | Science/Nature
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