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Hurricane Rita Now Category 4 Storm

Hurricane Rita continues to gain strength rapidly as it roars west into the Gulf of Mexico.

Wednesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center upgraded Rita to a category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 217 kilometers per hour.

Rita has grown from a tropical storm to one of the year's most powerful hurricanes in the span of just over 24 hours.

Forecasters say the storm will likely slam into Texas on Saturday but could also bring strong winds and heavy rain to the state of Louisiana, which is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

Hundreds of Katrina evacuees in the Texas city of Houston are being moved north to the state of Arkansas, while officials in Galveston, Texas, have called on residents to voluntarily evacuate.

Oil companies have begun evacuating offshore oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Rita lashed the Florida Keys and Cuba with torrential winds and rain on Tuesday, but caused no major damage.

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