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Tuesday, September 14, 1999 Published at 22:30 GMT 23:30 UK


Tourists flee hurricane's path

Hurricane Floyd has devastated the Bahamas

Hundreds of UK holidaymakers in Florida are seeking shelter from Hurricane Floyd, which has already battered resorts in the Bahamas.

The hurricane is expected to hit Florida, on the east coast of the USA, in the next few days.

Between 25,000 and 30,000 UK tourists are currently on holiday in the state. Those staying on coastal resorts, including Miami, are being moved inland.

Meanwhile, tourists in the Bahamas have been confined to their hotel rooms after the 155mph winds hit the islands.

Many of them may also be moved inland, as further storms are predicted to bring 20-feet waves.

Wedding ruined

Among those hit by the hurricane are Kevin Gater, 30, and his fiancée Samantha Robinson, 23, who are currently sheltering at their hotel in the Bahamas.

The couple from Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, planned to have a romantic beach wedding on Friday but fear it will be cancelled.

"It was to be the wedding of a lifetime in a gazebo on the beach but I don't suppose that will still be standing," said Mr Gater.

They are staying in the Breezes Bahamas Hotel on Cable Beach, near the capital Nassau, with another couple Robert and Susanne Owen, also from Stoke.

"We have experienced some really strong gusts and torrential rain," said Mr Owen.

"The waves are also crashing in off the beach right up to the ground floor. Trees have been ripped up and are lying on the roads.

"Most of the guests have been gathered in the ballroom on the fourth floor and we spent last night there. There are steel shutters on the windows and we all feel pretty safe there."

Flights cancelled

A spokesman for the Bahamas Tourist Office in London said Floyd was "one of the worst hurricanes this century".

"All hotels and resorts are taking all necessary precautions to protect visitors and residents, including moving guests where necessary to safer on-island locations.

"The airport in Nassau is closed and the town is getting some pretty dreadful conditions."

Meanwhile, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, and holiday company Airtours have cancelled their UK flights to Florida on Friday.

But two of the UK's biggest tour operators, Thomson Holidays and First Choice, have not yet stopped Orlando-bound flights on Thursday.

Spokeswomen for the companies stressed that all holidaymakers had been warned of the hurricane threat, and added they were monitoring the situation.

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