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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 September, 2004, 22:41 GMT 23:41 UK
Jamaica counts cost of hurricane
A Jamaican house destroyed by Hurricane Ivan
Many people on the island have had to flee their homes
Jamaica is beginning to count the cost of one of the most powerful hurricanes in its history, which has wreaked havoc across large swathes of the island.

Officials say at least 11 people have died but with communications down in much of the island, the full extent of the devastation has yet to be assessed.

Trees were uprooted, roofs ripped off, and roads swept away in flooding.

The hurricane is now a maximum category five hurricane and is heading for the tiny Cayman Islands and Cuba.

Hurricane Ivan has already left a massive trail of damage in the Caribbean, killing at least 27 people elsewhere, mostly in Grenada.

Wreckage on hillside, Grenada
Grenada: At least 17 dead
Venezuela: 5 killed
Jamaica: 11 killed
Dominican Republic: 4 killed
Tobago: 1 killed

The storm has been upgraded to a rare, top-intensity category five hurricane with winds of 165mph (265km/h).

At 2100 GMT the eye of the hurricane - dubbed Ivan the Terrible by Jamaicans - was about 145 miles (235km) east-south-east of Grand Cayman island, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

It was moving at a speed of nearly 9mph (15km/h) with maximum sustained wind speeds of 265km/h (165mph).

Jamaica was saved from the full force of the storm when it took an unexpected turn to the west.


As dawn broke, Jamaicans were able to see the extent of the devastation.

Debris left in the wake of Hurricane Ivan, in Kingston, Jamaica
The wind is still slamming into the back of the house and so we've switched to drinking Red Stripe Beer instead of tea! Much stronger and will save the water for cooking!
Sian Halliwell in Kingston

"The rains have been torrential. The sound of the wind is frightening and it is quite devastating," Ouida Ridguard told the BBC.

"This is definitely the worst thing I have experienced in my lifetime - and I have been through two major hurricanes," she added.

Prime Minister PJ Patterson had declared a state of emergency and the national electricity grid was shut down leading to a black-out across the island.

Many parts of the island remain impassable, so a full and accurate assessment of the casualties and damage will take some time, reports the BBC's Ian Pannell from Kingston.

While thousands of people sought shelter from the storm, many more ignored official warnings and stayed at home to protect their property for fear of burglars.

There were reports of looting in Kingston, though the police have been primarily concerned with rescue work, in one case, delivering a baby boy.

'Ivan the Terrible'

Hurricane Ivan threatens to be the worst natural disaster to hit Jamaica for 50 years.

The storm has sparked panic buying and mass evacuations in parts of Cuba.

The south-eastern US is also under threat.

A mandatory evacuation has been imposed in Florida Keys with more than 60,000 people - already storm-weary after two major hurricanes in the last month - asked to leave their homes.

So far the place hardest hit by Hurricane Ivan has been the tiny island of Grenada.

The first deliveries of aid supplies arrived on the island but the International Red Cross said more than two-thirds of Grenada's 95,000 inhabitants were now homeless. It has called for more donations.

Map of Hurricane Ivan's path

The BBC's Ian Pannell
"The loss to life and property is still unknown"


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