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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 September, 2004, 21:59 GMT 22:59 UK
Hurricane Jeanne batters Bahamas
Nassau resident collecting coconuts that fell from trees as Hurricane Jeanne passed over the Bahamas
Ferocious winds buffeted the Bahamas once again
Hurricane Jeanne has been battering the Bahamas with violent winds and torrential rains - the second storm to hit the islands in under a month.

The storm, now a category three hurricane, hit Great Abaco island with sustained winds of 115mph (185km/h).

Hundreds of people there and on Grand Bahama are in emergency shelters.

Jeanne is gaining strength as it prepares to hit Florida on Saturday night. Millions living on the US east coast have been urged to leave.

Jeanne's destructive power has been made starkly clear by the devastation in Haiti, where more than 1,500 were killed in the flooding and landslides caused by the storm.

The eye of the hurricane hit Marsh Harbour on Abaco island, which has a population of 20,000, on Saturday morning.

Map of the Bahamas
"The wind is howling," resident Richard Fawkes told the Associated Press from a shelter. "It's really coming with intensity now."

Several areas were flooded on both Abaco and Grand Bahama island - some up to 5ft (1.5m) deep, rescue workers said.

Grand Bahama was badly hit by Hurricane Frances three weeks ago.

Many houses had roofs ripped off and some homeless people are still living with relatives or neighbours. Half of Grand Bahama's 70,000 people are still without electricity.

The extent of the damage from Jeanne is still unclear. There are no reports of casualties.

Stormy season

The National Hurricane Centre has issued a hurricane warning along Florida's east coast from Florida City in the south up to St Augustine.

At 2100 GMT, Jeanne was some 100 miles (160km) from Florida. More than three million people have been urged to leave for safer areas.

Florida residents board up again as a hurricane heads their way
We cannot afford to treat Jeanne any differently than any of the other hurricanes
Alex Penelas
Miami-Dade Mayor
Officials are asking storm-weary residents to make sure they are prepared for the latest hurricane.

The BBC's Simon Watts in Miami says that the first bands of heavy rain and strong winds have already hit the Florida coast.

It will be the fourth hurricane to hit the state this year - the first US state to suffer this fate since Texas, more than a century ago.

"We cannot afford to treat Jeanne any differently than any of the other hurricanes," said Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas.

"You can't alter your preparations just because it's the third, fourth or fifth event of the season."

Jeanne is forecast to slam into some of the same areas hit by the previous hurricanes, including Fort Pierce.

"This is all we have left," Pam Curtis told AP, as she surveyed smashed furniture in front of her battered home in the town.

"I'm not running," said Kathy Chasteen of nearby Vera Beach.

"I've already lost everything," she said in an interview with the AFP news agency.

The hurricanes have so far caused at least 70 deaths in Florida and caused billions of dollars of damage.

Sonya Crawford, News Correspondent
"We're experiencing hurricane force winds here"


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