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Hurricane Ivan drenches western Cuba

Hurricane Ivan drenches western Cuba and heads toward U.S. Gulf Coast after killing 68 in Caribbean

Hurricane Ivan slammed into Cuba's sparsely populated western tip with the worst of its 160-mph eyewall, growing to a storm of catastrophic strength after it smashed giant waves onto Grand Cayman island and readied to attack the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. oil interests.

Ivan, one of the fiercest storms ever recorded in the region, smashed away part of a hotel on Cayman's famed Seven Mile Beach, seen in the fly-over of an AP-chartered aircraft over the island Monday.

The storm has killed at least 68 people in seven islands or countries the Caribbean, devastated Grenada and badly battered Negril resort in Jamaica.

Millions more people are threatened.

Monday night, it pounded the heartland of Cuba's famed cigar industry -- fields where much of the tobacco is grown to produce the 150 million Cuban cigars worth $240 million a year. Sugar, the lead export, was expected to be spared since most cane is grown in the east.

There were no immediate reports of deaths, injuries or serious damage.

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Hurricane Ivan Advisory 14/09/2004 2 am
Hurricane Ivan drenches western Cuba
Hurricane Ivan heads for US coast *LINK*
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