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Hurricane Ivan heads for US coast *LINK*

Gulf Coast residents from western Florida's Panhandle up to Louisiana have been preparing for Ivan's 160mph winds by boarding up houses, tying up boats and making plans to evacuate.

The hard-to-predict Category Five storm, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the Caribbean, intensified overnight, with maximum gusts of up to 195 mph.

It hit western Cuba, flooding Pinar del Rio province, the centre of tobacco growing and the biggest source for the island's famed cigar industry.

Computer models predicting the course of the storm indicate it could come ashore anywhere between the Florida panhandle to New Orleans in Louisiana.

Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida, said: "We are watching the storm very carefully.

"It has already taken at least 60 lives and our first precaution here thanks to the heroic work of the men and women that are here behind us and across the state is to make sure that no lives are taken.

"That is our challenge and we're working very hard to prepare the state for that."

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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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