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Ivan Kills 12 as It Ravages Grenada

The island's premier says 90% of homes were damaged. Inmates are loose after prison's ruin.

September 09, 2004|From Associated Press

ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada — The most powerful hurricane to hit the Caribbean in nearly a decade killed at least 12 people in Grenada, damaged 90% of the island's homes and destroyed a prison, setting criminals loose, officials said Wednesday.

"We are terribly devastated.... It's beyond imagination," Prime Minister Keith Mitchell said aboard a British Royal Navy vessel that came to the island's aid.

Hurricane Ivan pulverized concrete homes into piles of rubble and tore away hundreds of the island's characteristic red zinc roofs.

Mitchell, whose house was flattened, said 90% of homes on the island were damaged, and he feared the death toll would rise.

The storm also killed three people in other countries. The National Hurricane Center in Miami warned that Ivan, whose winds had strengthened to 140 mph, could hit Jamaica, Cuba and the southern United States.

Students at St. George's University, which overlooks the Grenadian capital, hid under mattresses or in bathrooms.

"The pipes were whistling, the doors were vibrating," said Sonya Lazarevic, a first-year student from New York.

"It looks like a landslide happened," said student Nicole Organ, 21, of Toronto. "There are all these colors coming down the mountainside -- sheets of metal, pieces of shacks."

She said she saw machete-carrying men looting a hardware store downtown.

Lazarevic said the mostly U.S. student body was arming with knives, sticks and pepper spray for fear looters would move into areas near the school.

Police Commissioner Roy Bedaau said every police station in the nation had been damaged, hindering efforts to control the looting. He said other Caribbean countries were sending troops to help patrol. A U.N. official said the United Nations was sending a disaster team.

Details of the extent of the death and destruction in Grenada did not emerge until Wednesday because the storm had cut all communication with the island of 100,000 people.

Before slamming into Grenada on Tuesday evening, Ivan pummeled Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, damaging hundreds of homes and cutting utilities. Thousands of people in those island nations remained without electricity and water Wednesday.

On Tobago, part of Trinidad and Tobago, officials reported that a 32-year-old pregnant woman died Tuesday when a 40-foot palm tree fell into her home, pinning her to her bed.

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