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Jeanne Gains Strength

Near-hurricane kills an infant, causes flooding in Dominican Republic.

September 17, 2004|From Associated Press

SAMANA, Dominican Republic — Tropical Storm Jeanne plowed into the Dominican Republic on Thursday, killing a baby in a landslide and forcing thousands of people to flee their homes, emergency officials said.

Powerful waves pounded the north coast, along with high winds and driving rain. Trees were toppled, and phone services and electricity were knocked out in some areas.

In the capital, Santo Domingo, the 4-month-old child died when the landslide crushed part of her family's house, said Jose Luis German, spokesman for the National Emergency Committee. At least eight other Dominicans were injured, a day after Jeanne killed two people in Puerto Rico.

The storm was forecast to regain hurricane strength and move toward the Bahamas -- devastated early this month by Hurricane Frances. It could then move toward the southeast United States, anywhere from Florida to the Carolinas. Eastern Cuba might also be hit, forecasters said.

More than 8,200 people were evacuated in the Dominican Republic, taking refuge in schools and churches, officials said.

Jeanne had become a hurricane early Thursday as winds increased to near 80 mph before it hit land at the eastern village of Cabo Engano. Winds later dropped to 70 mph over the northeastern Dominican Republic. Tropical storms become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph.

A hurricane warning was posted for the southeastern Bahamas and the British Turks and Caicos Islands, and a watch for the central Bahamas. Haiti's north coast was under a storm warning.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, residents in St. Croix said waist-high water flooded some homes.

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