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Hurricane Ivan rips into Alabama
2004 09 16

from BBC

Winds and storm surges are threatening coastal areas
The southern US state of Alabama has been hit full-on by Hurricane Ivan, with winds of up to 135mph (217km/h) battering the coastline.

The destructive force of one of the most powerful storms on record is being felt along a 370-mile stretch of the Gulf Coast, from Louisiana to Florida.

More than 2m people have fled inland; tornadoes killed two people in Florida.

Hurricane Ivan has already killed more than 60 people and left a trail of destruction across the Caribbean.

At the same time, the Caribbean is on renewed alert as Tropical Storm Jeanne threatens Puerto Rico.

State of emergency

Hurricane Ivan made landfall near the port of Mobile, Alabama, at about 0300 (0700 GMT).

"We have never seen a hurricane of this size come into Alabama," said Governor Bob Riley.

A Map Showing the Hurricane's Predicted Path

The BBC's Daniela Ralph in Mobile reported ferocious, swirling winds and heavy rains.

It is the worst weather to hit the area in 25 years, and has left 100,000 people without power for hours.

Mr Riley has imposed a curfew in Mobile and anyone who remains in the city has been told to stay inside.

Many people are crammed into local high schools being used as emergency shelters.

Coastline at risk

The storm is moving northwards at 13mph (21km/h).

A state of emergency has been declared in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Waves - some up to 25 feet (7.5 metres) - have already been destroying homes along the Florida shoreline, the Associated Press reported.

Officials in north-west Florida said two people had died in tornadoes produced by the storm.

The national hurricane centre has warned people not to venture out during the calm conditions of the eye.

"Winds will increase rapidly with little or no warning when the eye passes," it said.

Deluge threat

New Orleans in Louisiana - the largest US city below sea level - is particularly vulnerable.

Earlier, the main route out of New Orleans was clogged with traffic, while only emergency vehicles headed into Ivan's predicted path.

"Hopefully, the house will still be there when we get back," New Orleans resident Tara Chandra told the Associated Press news agency as he packed up his car.

Island damage

Hurricane warnings are in effect in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and parts of the Dominican Republic as the latest storm, Jeanne, approaches.

Flood waters in Grand Cayman are slowly receding
Meanwhile, the clear-up operation in areas already hit by Ivan continues.

Jamaican officials announced that more than 30 fishermen are missing after the island were hit last Friday.

There was a mass evacuation of western areas of Cuba, but the island escaped with minimal damage after the centre of the storm barely touched land.

An overnight curfew remained in effect in the Cayman Islands, where the hurricane wrought havoc on Sunday.

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