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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 23:57 GMT 00:57 UK
Florida braced for new hurricane
Hurricane Frances over Bahamas, approaching Florida
Frances is menacing the Bahamian capital, Nassau, and Florida
Residents of the US state of Florida are again preparing themselves for the onslaught of a massive hurricane - the second in less than a month.

More than half a million people have been ordered to evacuate their homes.

Hurricane Frances has already battered the Turks and Caicos Islands and is now approaching the capital of the Bahamas, Nassau.

The Bahamian prime minister has warned it could be the "most intense hurricane in recorded history".

At least 19 people died in Florida and 2,000 were forced into temporary shelter when Hurricane Charley hit the state in August.

Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami, said Hurricane Frances was just as strong as Charley, but twice the size.

It could cause "the same kind of devastation over a larger size", he told NBC's Today programme.

Tin roofs were torn off houses and trees ripped from the ground as Hurricane Frances' 145mph (235km/h) winds ploughed through the Turks and Caicos Islands on Thursday.

More than a dozen homes were damaged but so far no injuries have been reported.

Residents in the Bahamas were battening down as the storm approached.

Prime Minister Perry Christie urged islanders to stay calm, as he warned about the hurricane's possible size and strength.

About three-quarters of a million residents in the Florida states of Palm Beach County, Brevard County and Broward County have been issued with evacuation orders.

Miami resident use plywood to cover his windows in preparation for Hurricane Frances
Florida residents are buying plywood to board up windows
Many have been buying hurricane supplies, such as bottled water, torches and plywood boarding for windows.

Governor Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency, but stressed: "We are prepared, we will respond and we will recover."

Florida is still recovering from the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Charley, which is estimated to have cost insurers up to $11bn.

Many people had to wait days for power to be fully restored, and national guard troops and police officers were deployed to stop incidents of looting.





WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's David Willis
"The largest evacuation in the state's history"



SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Florida awaits storm
03 Sep 04  |  In Pictures
US hurricane victims face turmoil
17 Aug 04  |  Americas
Florida begins hurricane clean-up
16 Aug 04  |  Americas
Bush visits hurricane-hit Florida
16 Aug 04  |  Americas
Hurricanes boost Nature's chances
22 Apr 04  |  Science/Nature


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