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Thursday, October 21, 1999 Published at 01:40 GMT 02:40 UK

World: Americas

Hurricane Jose hits Antigua

The storm on Wednesday, courtesy of infrared satellite imagery

Hurricane Jose has been lashing the Caribbean island of Antigua with winds of 100mph (160kph) and torrential rains, causing extensive property damage.

Hurricane alerts are in force over a large portion of the eastern and north-eastern Caribbean, from the tiny British colony of Montserrat to Puerto Rico.

Houses on Antigua are reported to have had their roofs ripped off, trees have been uprooted and power lines downed after the storm scored a direct hit on the island.

[ image: Last week's Hurricane Irene left huge areas of Florida under water]
Last week's Hurricane Irene left huge areas of Florida under water
Reports posted by islanders on the Caribbean Hurricane page on the internet describe roofs and doors being blown off houses, and properties being flooded.

Residents have been told to stay inside and prepare for another assault from the back side of the storm as the calm eye moves across.

The BBC correspondent in Miami says the worst of the damage is reported to have occurred in the north of the island, but with telephone lines down it has been impossible to find out how bad the situation is.

Antigua's National Office of Disaster Services said one person was missing and 17 were injured.

Electricity was turned off as a precaution before the storm hit. Antigua, which is dependent on tourism, sustained severe losses in September 1995 when Hurricane Luis hit the island, damaging 75% of its homes.

Storm's path

Jose, the 10th storm of the 1999 Atlantic hurricane season, is moving north-west at 12mph and is expected to stay on that track for the next 24 hours.

The storm is expected to take a path slightly north of Puerto Rico and then curve toward the north, missing the mainland United States.

It is carrying 5-10 inches (13-25 cm) of rain, higher than normal tides and dangerous battering waves, according to meteorologists.

[ image: Virgin Islanders board their properties up ahead of Jose's arrival]
Virgin Islanders board their properties up ahead of Jose's arrival
The US National Hurricane Centre in Miami said Jose is on a par with Hurricane Irene, which struck Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida last week.

It left at least 14 people dead, and unleashed massive flooding.

"The hurricane is moving across the Leeward Islands as the day progresses and it will go across the Virgin Islands early tomorrow," meteorologist Bill Frederick said on Wednesday.

"The only thing that should be threatened is Bermuda in a few days' time," he said.

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Internet Links

US National Hurricane Centre

Cuban Institute of Meteorology (in Spanish)

Caribbean Hurricane page

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