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Storm drenches Bahamas and Cuba as toll rises

world Updated: Nov 03, 2007 03:50 IST

AP
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Tropical Storm Noel drenched the Bahamas and Cuba while in the storm's wake rescuers in the Dominican Republic headed out in boats and helicopters to reach dozens of communities stranded by floods and mudslides.

Noel on Thursday became the deadliest storm of the Atlantic region this year. Hurricane Felix, a devastating Category 5 storm, killed 101 people when it lashed the Caribbean and slammed into the Nicaraguan and Honduran coasts in early September.

Noel poured rain and misery on four central and eastern provinces in Cuba. Muddy waters overflowed a dam and washed into hundreds of homes and over highways. Electricity and phone services were knocked out and dozens of small communities were cut off.

Cuban soldiers went door-to-door in low-lying areas and evacuated about 24,000 people, according to state radio and television reports. At least 2,000 homes were damaged by flood waters, but there was no official word of deaths.

In Ciego de Avila province in central Cuba, flooding wiped out nearly 2,000 tons of corn, potato, banana, cucumber and tomato harvests, said Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, a vice president.

Sheets of rain pelted the Bahamian island cluster of Abacos as residents hunkered down in their homes and tied-down boats bobbed on white-crested surf.

The Nassau International Airport closed but was expected to reopen today at noon. Only one of 10 cruise ships scheduled to arrive have done so, with the others postponing their arrivals until this weekend, officials said.