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Fabian moves on after lashing Bermuda

Four people presumed dead

Gusting winds and rain showers of Hurricane Fabian hit palm trees in Hamilton, Bermuda.
Gusting winds and rain showers of Hurricane Fabian hit palm trees in Hamilton, Bermuda.

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Bermuda - before and after Hurricane Fabian.
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HURRICANE FABIAN
At 5 p.m. EDT Saturday
Latitude: 37.5 north
Longitude: 59.3 west
Position: 715 miles (1155 kilometers) southwest of Cape Race, Newfoundland,
Top sustained winds: Near 110 mph (175 kph)
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HAMILTON, Bermuda (CNN) -- Emergency crews in Bermuda were assessing damage Saturday after powerful Hurricane Fabian ripped across the island, snapping trees, downing power lines and peeling the roofs off buildings.

Fabian pounded Bermuda Friday with 120 mph (193 kph) winds for more than five hours, before moving over the island and back into the Atlantic. A gust of 143 mph (230 kph) was recorded at the airport before the wind gauge broke.

Four people, including two police officers, are missing and presumed dead in the aftermath of the storm, Bermuda Premier Alex Scott said Saturday morning.

Scott said all four of the missing were from a single incident on a bridge, now partially collapsed, leading to Bermuda's airport.

He said two police officers and a civilian tried to rescue two civilians, trapped in separate cars on the bridge. One of the civilians reached safety, he said, but the police car and the other civilian car were swept into the inlet by the hurricane's crashing waves.

The cars were found Saturday morning, the premier said, but the four remain unaccounted for.

Scott said a hurricane had not killed anyone in Bermuda since a Category 3 storm scored a direct hit in 1926. That unnamed storm was the last major storm to hit the islands.

CNN correspondent Gary Tuchman and his crew, watching the storm from Southhampton Parish on Bermuda's southwest corner, drove the streets shortly after the worst of the storm and said there were hundreds of fallen trees and downed power lines.

Tuchman said the hotel where he is staying was shaking and that a nearby beachside restaurant had been swallowed by the ocean. The winds also snapped power lines and trees, leaving them littered in the streets. In addition, roofs of buildings have been ripped off.

Scott said that 70 percent of Bermuda power customers were without electricity Saturday, but added that "Bermuda is well on the road to recovery and restoration" and "is open for business locally, and internationally in the very near future."

He said officials hoped to have the bridge to the airport temporarily repaired and the airport open later in the day.

At 5 p.m. EDT, Fabian's top wind speed had weakened to a Category 2 hurricane, but remained powerful, with maximum sustained winds reaching 110 mph (175 kph) the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

The eye of the storm was centered about 715 miles (1115 kilometers) southwest of Cape Race, Newfoundland, rushing northeast at 23 mph, (37 kph). The storm is expected to continue its northeast path Saturday.

The effects of Fabian will also be felt on parts of the East Coast of the United States as large swells pound the shoreline.

Henri likely to cause flooding

Meanwhile, forecasters warn that the remnants of Tropical Storm Henri could lead to serious flooding in Florida's Gulf Coast, which is already saturated.

The storm was downgraded Saturday to a tropical depression but could return to tropical storm strength in the next 24 hours. As of 5 p.m. EDT, the center of the storm was about 80 miles (128 kilometers) east-northeast of Daytona Beach, Florida, with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph.

The storm was moving over the peninsula at near 17 mph (27 kph) and was expected to move back into the Atlantic Ocean Saturday afternoon.

The National Hurricane Service said much of Florida was already saturated with rain and that Henri could lead to major flooding. Forecasters are predicting 2 to 4 inches of rain.

Isabel forms in Atlantic

The ninth tropical storm of the 2003 Atlantic season took shape Saturday morning in the mid-Atlantic and was heading west, the National Hurricane Center said.

Tropical Storm Isabel gradually gathered strength during the day and was about 725 miles (1166 kilometers) west of the Cape Verde Islands at 5 p.m. EDT, heading west at 12 mph (19 kph) with top sustained winds at about 50 mph (kph).

The NHC predicted a steady strengthening and a gradual turn to the northwest over the next two or three days. The storm could become a hurricane during the same time.


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