8 Sep 2008

Hurricane Ike crossing the Caribbean

9:17 am on 8 September 2008

Thousands of people have taken refuge across the Caribbean as one of the season's fiercest hurricanes crosses the region, towards Cuba.

The Prime Minister of the Turks and Caicos islands says up to 80% of houses there have been damaged.

Hurricane Ike is now a category three hurricane. Winds have decreased slightly to 195km per hour and are hitting the Bahamas. Ike is due to reach the coast of Cuba on Sunday night.

Cuban authorities have evacuated hundreds of thousands of people.

There has been more rain on Haiti, which is still reeling from three other recent storms, which left at least 600 people dead.

The worst-hit area is the port city of Gonaives, where flooding has left about 200,000 people with little food or water.

About 3,000 people died in Gonaives four years ago when the city was drowned by Tropical Storm Jeanne.

Red Cross workers

Two New Zealand Red Cross workers are to leave on Monday to help relief work in Haiti.

Pat Maunsell from Christchurch and Peter Moore from Wellington are to help set up a telecommunications system which the Red Cross will use to coordinate its response.