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Hurricane Ike Weakens, Still Dangerous for Cuba, Haiti


Hurricane Ike has weakened somewhat as it moves across Cuba, but is still buffeting Caribbean islands with dangerous winds and heavy rain.

Cuba says more than 800,000 people were evacuated from their homes because of the storm.

In Haiti, the hurricane caused flooding that killed nearly 60 people in the eastern town of Cabaret, adding to an estimated toll of 500 people killed by storms during the past week.

Flooding also collapsed a bridge that was the last land route for evacuations and aid to the northern Haiti city of Gonaives, which was hit hard by earlier storms.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Ike had sustained winds of 155 kilometers per hour as is passed over Camaguey, Cuba. The winds were nearly 200 kilometers per hour when the storm made landfall in northeastern Cuba late Sunday.

Ike is expected to drop 15 to 30 centimeters of rain throughout Cuba, with up to 50 centimeters possible in some areas.

Ike is expected to regain strength as it moves across the Gulf of Mexico toward the United States. Forecasters warn it could produce deadly waves along part of the southeastern U.S. coastline.

International aid efforts are under way to help thousands of Haitians who have been without food and clean water for days.

A hurricane watch is in effect for the (U.S.) Florida Keys. Officials in Florida have ordered an evacuation of the island chain. President George Bush has declared a state of emergency for Florida and ordered federal aid to supplement relief efforts.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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