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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Azores escape worst of hurricane
A weakened Hurricane Gordon has passed Portugal's Azores Islands in mid-Atlantic, causing little of the damage initially forecast.

The hurricane's centre "passed further south than forecast", sparing western and central islands in the Azores archipelago, weather officials said.

Winds of 120km/h (75mph) were recorded early on Wednesday - barely enough to classify Gordon as a hurricane.

Gordon is said to have lost force as it passed east over cooler waters.

Azores officials said damage had been limited to toppled trees and disruption of the electricity network on the eastern island of Santa Maria.

Forecasters expect Gordon to weaken further as it moves away from the Azores.

Some 240,000 people live in the nine Azores islands.

Farming and fishing are the mainstay of the economy of the islands, which lie about 1,500 km (930 miles) off the western coast of Europe.

The Azores had been placed on high alert on Tuesday, with people being warned to stay indoors and keep livestock inside.

Forecasters had warned of heavy rain and 170km/h (105mph) winds, as well as waves as high as 12 metres (40ft) swamping the region's ports.

Azores set for Hurricane Gordon
19 Sep 06 |  Europe
Animated guide: Hurricanes
01 Jun 05 |  Science/Nature

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