Caribbean swept by Ike, Florida on alert

Other News Materials 7 September 2008 21:16 (UTC +04:00)

Residents of the Caribbean Turks and Caicos islands began surveying damage on Sunday following the devastating impact of Hurricane Ike, as the "extremely dangerous" category 4 storm continued on its path toward the Bahamas and Florida Keys.

At 8 a.m. (1300 GMT) Ike had winds of over 215 kilometres per hour, just east of Grand Inagua in the Bahamas.

Residents of Turks and Caicos islands said on Sunday that the worst there had passed, but the damage looked "pretty huge."

Speaking to US news channel CNN, Audley Astwood, a reporter at a radio station on Grand Turk island said that "it looks very dismal outside."

CNN reported that an estimated 50 per cent of homes on Grand Turk had been destroyed by the storm or had roofs removed.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami reported on Sunday morning that Ike was expected to move through the south-east Bahamas during the morning, to be "near or over eastern Cuba" by nightfall.

NHC labelled the hurricane as "extremely dangerous" and said that it remains a threat for "all interests in the Florida Keys."

Residents of the Florida Keys had been ordered to evacuate by 8 a.m. Sunday, CNN reported, and officials in Florida said they would continue to help residents evacuate throughout the day.

While admitting that storm tracks are unpredictable, Florida Governor Charlie Crist said Ike could develop into a serious threat by Tuesday.

"What we also have to do, to be prepared, is to be smart, alert and vigilant," he said.

The Caribbean has already seen three major storms in the past month, Tropical Storm Hanna, Tropical Storm Fay, and Hurrican Gustav. Hundreds of people have died in Caribbean nations, with Haiti being the worst hit. 163 people died there in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Hanna, dpa reported.