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At least 11 dead as Tropical Storm Noel heads for Bahamas, Cuba

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  • NEW: South Florida may need to issue a tropical storm watch early Tuesday
  • Storm blamed for 11 deaths in Dominican Republic; 20 people missing
  • Storm center 305 miles south of Nassau at 11 p.m. ET
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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Cuba issued a tropical storm warning for the Camaguey, Las Tunas and Ciego de Avila provinces as Tropical Storm Noel approached the island.

Satellite image of Tropical Storm Noel at 4:15 ET. A U.S. Air Force plane is seeking the precise center of the storm.

The center of the storm was about 305 miles (490 kilometers) south of Nassau at 11 p.m. ET, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.

A still disorganized Noel slowed down to 13 mph and was expected to keep that pace for the next 24 hours, forecasters said.

South Florida should monitor Noel, because a tropical storm watch may be necessary for southeast Florida early Tuesday, the hurricane center said.

Noel lashed the Dominican Republic with heavy rain on Monday, causing flooding and mudslides that left 11 people dead, a government spokesman said.

The Associated Press, also citing government officials, reported at least 20 people have been killed and another 20 missing.

The storm had been expected to hit Haiti directly but veered toward the Dominican Republic, apparently catching residents off guard. The tropical storm warning was lifted for Haiti, according to the hurricane center.

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"We didn't know that it was going to be like this, it took us by surprise," Guarionex Rosado said. He told AP he left his home in La Cienaga, one of Santo Domingo's most affected neighborhoods.

Schools and shops closed across the Dominican Republic and many roads were impassable. Communication was cut between many small towns and the capital.

A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane went out Monday afternoon to more precisely locate the storm's center.

Maximum wind strength was 50 mph at 5 p.m. ET.Video Watch wind whip trees in Santo Domingo, captured by an I-Reporter »

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for the central and southeastern Turks and Caicos Islands and portions of southeastern Cuba.

Five to 10 inches of rain was predicted for southeastern Cuba and the central and southeastern Bahamas, with maximum rainfall in some areas of 15 inches. Puerto Rico may receive 3 to 5 inches of rain through Tuesday morning.

From his house, Santo Domingo resident Alex Reyes said, "Basically it's been raining the whole day for two days now." He saw flooding but just on "less frequently used streets."

He said he was very worried about the weather. "In the countryside here, all the rain can cause mudslides and a lot of problems," he said.

Clarismelda Aquino, also of Santo Domingo, described very strong wind: "It's knocked out a couple trees. There's also a lot of water in the streets and debris."

Maria Pereyra, a Santo Domingo college student, said Sunday the rain and wind intensity caught people there by surprise.

"Today has been a horrible day, a lot of rain and very, very intense winds," Pereyra said.


She said flooding in "the very poor neighborhoods" has forced many residents to leave their homes.

In 2004 heavy rains that accompanied Tropical Storm Jeanne triggered massive mudslides in northern Haiti that left more than 3,000 people dead and 200,000 homeless. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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