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Hurricane Tomas batters east Caribbean

CASTRIES, St. Lucia — Newly born Hurricane Tomas swept through a cluster of eastern Caribbean islands Saturday, tearing off roofs, damaging houses and downing power lines.

Authorities in St. Vincent were trying to confirm reports that three people died, including two men who might have been blown off a roof, said Jimmy Prince, emergency management spokesman.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Tomas strengthened Saturday night with 90 mph winds and was centered about 50 miles west-southwest of St. Lucia. It was moving west-northwest at 9 mph.

Forecasters said Tomas, the Atlantic season's 12th hurricane, could become a Category 2 storm Monday evening and possibly reach Category 3 by midweek, with winds around 115 mph.

It was forecast to head toward Jamaica and could unleash heavy rains in southern portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Tropical storm warnings were issued for Dominica, Tobago and Grenada, where the airport closed and gas stations sold out of fuel.

Another tropical storm, Shary, headed into the open Atlantic after missing Bermuda.

Hurricane Tomas batters east Caribbean 10/31/10 [Last modified: Sunday, October 31, 2010 12:29am]
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