Tourists prepare to leave Caribbean islands as Hurricane Ike approaches

September 7th, 2008 - 10:27 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 7 (DPA) Tourists and residents of the Caribbean Islands of Turks and Caicos were making plans Saturday to evacuate as Hurricane Ike approached.The Miami-based US National Hurricane Centre warned that the “core of dangerous Hurricane Ike” was approaching the islands and said “preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion”.

A hurricane warning was also in place for the Bahamas and parts of Cuba, while a tropical storm alert was sounded for the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

At 0100 GMT, the eye of the hurricane was located 105 km east of Grand Turk Island, and Ike was moving west-southwest, NHC said, with maximum sustained winds of 215 km per hour.

Ike was described as “an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane”, and would likely cause storm surges and “life-threatening” rip currents that could affect parts of the southeastern US coast.

Tourists at the Florida Keys were also told to pack and leave, CNN reported, and officials in Florida said they would continue to help residents evacuate through Sunday.

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

Ike is likely to sweep into the Gulf of Mexico, on the heels of Hurricane Gustav, forecasters said.

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