NASSAU, Bahamas — Hurricane Sandy lashed the central Bahamas on Thursday night with violent winds and torrential rains after raging through the Caribbean where it caused at least 21 deaths.
State media in Cuba said Sandy toppled houses, ripped off roofs and killed 11 people in the eastern provinces of Santiago and Guantanamo as it roared over the island as a Category 2 storm early Thursday. Nine deaths were reported in Haiti and one in Jamaica.
The sprawling Category 2 hurricane killed 10 people elsewhere in the Caribbean: nine in Haiti and one in Jamaica.
By Thursday evening, the hurricane's center was about 105 miles east of the Bahamas capital of Nassau as it spun between Cat Island and Eleuthera in the central Bahamas. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and was moving north-northwest at 17 mph.
Caroline Turnquest, head of the Red Cross in the Bahamas archipelago off Florida's east coast, said 20 shelters were opened on the main island of New Providence. "Generally people are realizing it is serious," she said.
Steven Russell, an emergency management official in Nassau, said docks on the western side of Great Inagua island had been destroyed and the roof of a government building was partly ripped off.
"As the storm passes over Eleuthera and Cat Island, they should get a pretty good beating," he said.
The huge Atlantis resort went into lockdown after dozens of tourists left Paradise Island before the airport closed, officials said.
Hurricane Sandy was expected to churn through the central and northwest Bahamas late Thursday and early today. It also might cause tropical storm conditions along the southeastern Florida coast, the Upper Keys and Florida Bay by this morning.
Officials reported flooding across Haiti, where 370,000 people are still displaced by the devastating 2010 earthquake.
There were downed trees and power lines at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, no reports of injuries, a spokeswoman said.