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Tropical Storm Fay spun toward Cuba on Sunday after lashing Haiti and the Dominican Republic
Forecasters said Fay was expected to gain force on Sunday and could be near hurricane strength when it passes over Cuba and zeros in on Florida, where officials declared a state of emergency.

Cuba's government issued a hurricane watch from Havana eastward to central Sancti Spiritus province. A hurricane watch was also in effect in parts of south Florida and the Florida keys, where authorities ordered visitors to leave.

The storm was centered Sunday morning about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Camaguey, Cuba, or about 395 miles (635 kilometers) southeast of Key West, Florida, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Maximum sustained winds were near 50 mph (85 kph). Fay was moving west-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph), and was expected to turn to the north-northwest by late Monday.
Officials in Cuba's eastern province of Santiago advised farmers to move livestock to higher ground and were prepared to evacuate tourists from low-lying coastal areas, the Communist Party newspaper Granma reported on its Web site.

There were no official details on how many tourists had been evacuated, but in the western Cuban city of Santiago, a hotel receptionist said some tourists were moved inland from the coast on Saturday.

A man died Saturday in Haiti while trying to cross a river in Leogane, south of Port-au-Prince, said Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, head of Haiti's civil protection department.

Fields in Haiti's fertile Artibonite Valley were flooded, and Fay's heavy winds destroyed banana crops in Arcahaie, north of the capital.

Haiti has struggled to cope with a food crisis that sparked deadly riots in April. It was unclear how many acres of farmland were affected by the storm.

In neighboring Dominican Republic, a woman drowned with her 13-year-old niece and 5-year-old nephew, after trying to cross a swollen river in a car, civil defense agency director Luis Luna Paulino said.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman islands. A warning suggests tropical storm conditions are expected there within 24 hours or less.

In Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency. Fay "threatens the state of Florida with a major disaster," he wrote in an executive order.

The hurricane center said Fay is expected to be near hurricane strength as it approaches the Florida Keys late Monday or early Tuesday and make landfall somewhere along the western coast of Florida.

Keys emergency officials often order early evacuations as a precaution because traffic can back up for miles on the single highway to Florida's mainland. Most of the islands sit at sea level and could be flooded by Fay's storm surge.

A tropical storm watch was also in effect for the southeast coast of Florida, from Ocean Reef north to Jupiter Inlet, as well as for Lake Okeechobee. A watch means storm conditions are possible within 36 hours.


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