Killer Ike hits Cuba, lashes Bahamas in its path toward U.S.

Monday, September 8, 2008

CAMAGUEY, Cuba -- Hurricane Ike roared into Cuba on Sunday after destroying houses and crops on low-lying islands, and worsening floods in Haiti that have already killed more than 300 people.

With Ike forecast to sweep the length of Cuba and possibly hit Havana head-on, hundreds of thousands of Cubans evacuated to shelters or higher ground. To the north, residents of the Florida Keys fled up a narrow highway, fearful that the hurricane could hit them Tuesday.

At least 58 people died as Ike's winds and rain swept Haiti Sunday -- and officials found three more bodies from a previous storm -- raising the nation's death toll from four tropical storms in less than a month to 319. A Dominican man was crushed by a falling tree. It was too early to know of deaths on other islands where the powerful winds were still blowing.

Ike's center hit the Bahamas' Great Inagua island, where the roofs of its two shelters both sprung leaks under the 135 mph winds. As the storm passed, people inside peeked through windows at toppled trees and houses stripped of their roofs.

"It's nasty. I can't remember getting hit like this," reserve police officer Henry Nixon said from inside a shelter holding about 85 people.

Todd Kimberlain, a meteorologist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center, said Ike was expected to remain over the island until Tuesday.

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