Wednesday, September 15, 1999 Published at 05:25 GMT 06:25 UK
Floyd keeps US guessing
Nervous residents along the Florida and Georgia coastline are monitoring the uncertain path of Hurricane Floyd as it passes over the Bahamas and heads towards the US mainland.
US President Bill Clinton cut short a trip to New Zealand and declared a federal state of emergency in both states because of the approaching hurricane.
Latest reports say Floyd, one of the most powerful storms to hit the region this century, is veering to the northwest and slightly reducing in intensity. But forecasters are warning it is still very dangerous and capable of causing considerable damage.
At 2100 GMT (1700 EST) Hurricane Floyd was positioned 235 miles (380 km) southeast of Cape Canaveral, roughly midway along Florida's eastern coastline, and heading northwest at about 12mph (19kph).
At current estimates, it should remain off the Florida mainland, making landfall in South Carolina by midnight on Wednesday.
Earlier, the hurricane swept through the Bahamas, bringing down trees and powerlines and flinging debris into buildings.
Phone links between the capital, Nassau, and outlying areas were said to have been severed.
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Weather experts said that if Floyd's winds had been just a few miles per hour harder, it would have been classified as a category five storm, the most powerful of hurricanes.
Florida residents flee
Meanwhile, in Florida, US authorities declared a state of emergency and warned nearly two million residents to leave coastal areas as far north as North Carolina.
Experts also warned that Floyd still had the potential to wreak as much havoc as 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which killed at least 26 people and caused more than $25bn worth of damage.
As authorities co-ordinate the civil emergency, Florida's tourism industry shut down with two of the major Orlando attractions, Disney World and SeaWorld, closing.
In Charleston, South Carolina, authorities told the crews of civilian cargo ships to prepare to leave port.
National Guard forces have been put on alert across three states as authorities lifted tolls on major roads away from the coast to help get the population out as quickly as possible.
Only a skeleton crew has remained at the low-lying Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral and three of Nasa's space shuttles were moved to their hangar - designed to only withstand winds of up to 105 mph.
The last time Nasa took such precautions was during Hurricane Erin in 1995.
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