Tropical Storm Gustav barrelled toward Haiti on Tuesday after emerging in the Caribbean Sea, threatening to grow into a hurricane before striking the impoverished island, forecasters said.
The Haitian government urged its population to take precautions and appealed for international help to deal with the storm's aftermath, one week after Tropical Storm Fay left about 47 people dead or missing on the island.
"In the face of the danger threatening Haiti, I ask national civil protection committees and our friends in international cooperation to help the government manage the risks and disasters," Interior Minister Paul-Antoine Bien-Aime said on national television.
Gustav gained strength after it became the seventh tropical storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season on Monday, the Miami-based US National Hurricane Centre said.
The eye of the storm was expected to be near Haiti's coast on Tuesday afternoon, the centre said. Packing winds of 110 kilometres per hour, Gustav was about 240 kilometres southeast of Port-au-Prince at around 0830 IST, it said in its latest bulletin.
Gustav was "almost a hurricane," the centre said, adding: "Gustav is expected to become a hurricane on Tuesday.