Hurricane Sandy left Cuban land early Thursday
and headed towards the central Bahamas, according to the Cuban
Weather Service, while Cuban media reported power outages, hundreds
of downed trees, and damaged homes in the storm's wake.
The hurricane, which strengthened into a Category 2 storm before making landfall on Cuba early Thursday, had maximum sustained winds of 165 kilometers per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.
While the Bahamas Weather Service forecast a gradual weakening of the storm over the next 48 hours, it was expected to remain a hurricane as it struck the island nation.
Two deaths in the region were reported. A woman was swept away and killed Wednesday in the western Haitian town of Camp Perrin trying to cross a swollen river, authorities were quoted as saying by national media.
In Jamaica, a 74-year-old man died when a landslide caused a boulder to fall on his house outside Kingston, a local news report quoted police as saying. The storm also ripped off roofs and uprooted trees in the area.
Hurricane warnings were still in effect Thursday for parts of Cuba and most of the Bahamas, while tropical storm warnings were in effect for Haiti and parts of the Bahamas and Florida coast, the Miami-based US National Hurricane Center said.
The weather system was expected to drop to tropical storm strength before hitting the east coast of the US state of Florida, the centre said.
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