Ike Causes Heavy Damage, Heads Toward Cuba

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — There’s a lot of damage in the Turks and Caicos Islands from Hurricane Ike, which roared through today with 135-mile-an-hour winds.

The hurricane has now weakened to a Catetory 3 storm with 120-mile-an-hour winds.

Officials report most of the homes on two of the islands were damaged or destroyed. Ike’s most powerful winds are still blowing on other islands, and it’s too early to know the number of deaths or injuries.

In a church that sheltered about 50 people in the southern Bahamas, the screaming winds threatened to peel the plywood from the windows. The shelter manager says the pastor there led everyone in prayer.

The flood death toll from Ike in Haiti has climbed to at least 48. Hundreds more are feared to have died in three previous storms that have drenched the impoverished nation in recent weeks.

In Cuba, the government has evacuated vulnerable communities ahead of Ike’s expected strike tonight and tomorrow before it heads toward the U.S. Gulf Coast.