Hurricane Wilma is sweeping over Florida, bringing storm
surges, up to 25cm of rain and leaving hundreds of thousands without
Wilma made landfall near Naples as a Category Three storm with
winds of 125mph (200km/h) and is now moving to the Atlantic coast as a Category
Governor Jeb Bush urged people not go out till the storm had
At least 17 people across the Caribbean have died as a result of the
hurricane - once the strongest on record.
Havana in Cuba has been flooded,
while police in Mexico are trying to control looting in the wake of Wilma's
After making landfall in Florida at about 0630 (1030
GMT), the storm moved north-east over Everglades City.
Wilma is now
moving at 25mph and is expected to reach the Atlantic off Palm Beach County
shortly. It is then expected to head north up the coast.
The eye of the
storm is estimated to be 60 miles (96km) wide.
In Florida, Governor Bush
told residents: "Please don't go outside until the storm has completely passed
because the west side of the storm will be as strong and intense or maybe even
Florida Power and Light said 1.6m customers had lost electricity
and it had shut three nuclear power stations.
Jaime Sarbaugh, an
emergency management worker close to where Wilma made landfall, said: "The rain
is coming down sideways. We've had a handful of tornadoes."
Oliver Conway in Fort Myers, Florida, said the windows of his hotel had blown in
and he had been told to evacuate.
"The wind was so fierce it was almost
knocking people over. The trees are wobbling, the leaves are pushed back all in
one direction and even lamps are shaking with the ferocity of this wind," he
About 80% of the 80,000 residents of the low-lying Florida Keys are
thought to have ignored repeated evacuation
Wilma, at one point the most intense hurricane on
record in the Atlantic, forced 600,000 Cubans from coastal areas, where several
villages were flooded by big storm surges.
Cuba's capital, Havana, has
also been hit by large waves, with water up to one metre high penetrating four
blocks into the city from the coast and flooding basement
Rescue teams in inflatable rafts pulled hundreds of people
from flooded homes.
Wilma finally left Mexico's Gulf coast on Sunday
after pounding the Yucatan peninsula, killing at least six people and destroying
hotels and thousands of homes.
Police in the Mexican resort of Cancun
have fired shots to try to control hundreds of looters taking goods from damaged
Floods and high winds have forced tens of thousands of people,
including many foreign tourists, to remain in emergency shelters for a third
The army and navy are planning to drop them aid
Haiti and the Dominican Republic were earlier drenched by
torrential rains brought by Tropical Storm Alpha, now downgraded to a tropical
Forecasters warn Alpha, whose formation made this year's
Atlantic hurricane season the most active since 1933, could strengthen
It is the first time the NHC has had to resort to the Greek
alphabet to name a storm, after all 21 names pre-assigned for storms this year
were used up.
The hurricane season still has five weeks to
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/americas/4369674.stmPublished: 2005/10/24 15:03:23 GMT