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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 15:48 GMT
US Coast Guard in Cuba exercise
The US Coast Guard is staging a huge exercise in Florida in preparation for a possible mass exodus from Cuba in the event of the death of Fidel Castro.

More than 300 agents and 85 law enforcement agencies are taking part in the two-day Operation Vigilant Sentry.

Actors are playing imaginary Cuban migrants in mock interceptions.

The operation has taken on a renewed urgency since President Castro fell ill and handed temporary power to his brother Raul last July.

President Castro recently spoke in a live broadcast with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez, but has not been seen in public since last year.

Coast Guard Rear Adm David Kunkel said: "It's a mass migration plan in general. It doesn't have to be from Cuba.

"However we do recognise that Cuba is certainly an area where we must be prepared."

In the early 1980s, tens of thousands of people left Cuba after receiving permission from the government.

Deportation of Cubans 'illegal'
02 Mar 06 |  Americas

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