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Cuba, Dominican Republic brace for tropical storm Isaac

08-25-2012 07:52 BJT

HAVANA, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- Cuba and the Dominican Republic on Friday continued to prepare for extreme weather conditions caused by tropical storm Isaac.

Authorities in the eastern Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Holguin, Las Tunas and Camaguey, where Isaac was expected to hit, took steps to prevent loss of life and property, with Provincial Defense Councils assessing the risk to low-lying communities and evaluating temporary shelters, should they be needed.

Officials made sure shelters were equipped with proper kitchens and that emergency fuel supplies were available for hospitals, bakeries and other facilities.

The government also dispatched medical brigades, including surgical teams, to mountaintop communities that risk being cut off if excessive rain causes landslides or flooding.

Isaac, the ninth tropical storm of the 2012 season, strengthened slightly Friday as it moved closer to the Dominican Republic and neighboring Haiti, which share the same island, with forecasters predicting it could turn into a hurricane later in the day.

According to the latest report from the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC), issued at 2 p.m. local time Friday, the center of the storm was expected to "pass near or over Haiti" by evening "and move near or over eastern and central Cuba Saturday and Sunday."

Isaac was packing maximum sustained winds of nearly 95 kilometers per hour (kph), "with higher gusts," and "could be near hurricane strength at landfall," said the NHC.

Dominican authorities Friday evacuated nearly 3,000 residents in the south of the country and maintained a maximum red alert in 22 provinces, as Isaac was located some 265 kilometers southeast of the capital Santo Domingo and moving westward at 22 kph.

Storms had already cut off communication with eight communities in the northeast province of Samana and central Sanchez Ramirez province, according to the Emergency Operations Center (COE).

Poor weather conditions had also led officials to temporarily suspend some 10 flights from Santo Domingo to Miami; to Orlando, Florida; and to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from the capital's Las Americas international airport.

Another six flights were suspended at the international airport of Punta Cana, the country's famed vacation destination located 205 kilometers east of the capital.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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