Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gustav kills 71; plows through Cayman Islands

AP: Gustav was projected to hit Cuba's Isle of Youth, then cross the main island into the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday night or Sunday. Cuban state television announced that effective Saturday, all buses and trains to and from Havana will be suspended until further notice.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Hanna was projected to curl westward into the Bahamas by early next week. It had sustained winds near 50 mph (85 kph) late Friday.

Along the U.S. Gulf Coast, most commemorations of the Katrina anniversary were canceled because of Gustav, but in New Orleans a horse-drawn carriage took the bodies of Katrina's last seven unclaimed victims to burial.
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Gustav, which killed 71 people in the Caribbean, swirled through the Caymans overnight with fierce winds that tore down trees and power lines. It was expected to cross Cuba's cigar country Saturday and head into the Gulf of Mexico by Sunday.

"The wind is just tremendous," O'Connor-Connolly said at the height of the storm. "They say it's 80 mph but it certainly seems to be over 100 mph, and I've been through lots of storms."

Late Friday night, Gustav was centered 25 miles (40 kilometers) west-southwest of Little Cayman Island and moving northwest near 10 mph (17 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. Top winds were about 80 mph (130 kph).

Chris Smith, of Frederick, Maryland, said his hotel handed out wrist bands marked with guests' names and room numbers so that "if something happens they can quickly identify us."

"That was a little bit sobering," he said, standing outside the hotel with his luggage.

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