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Hanna Cuts Trail Of Death In Haiti

A man leads children through a flooded street after Hurricane Hanna hit the area in Gonaives, Haiti, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008. Three storms have killed at least 126 people in Haiti in less than three weeks. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos
Haiti's government says the death toll from Tropical Storm Hanna has more than doubled to 137, with most of the deaths coming in the flooded port city of Gonaives.

The Ministry of the Interior and the Civil Protection Department issued statements Thursday saying that 80 of the deaths were in Gonaives, which has been almost entirely cut off by floodwaters from Hanna.

Virtual lakes have formed over every road in the city and officials are attempting to get food and water to residents who were stranded.

Another 22 deaths were confirmed in areas immediately surrounding the coastal city.

The rest of the deaths were scattered across the country.

The previous death toll had been 61.

While officials from Nassau to South Carolina were keeping an eye on Hanna, behind it, Hurricane Ike was gaining strength as it lumbered across the Atlantic as a powerful Category 4 storm.

Hanna's heart was about 540 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina, late Thursday night. It was moving toward the northwest near 14 mph.

Its maximum sustained winds were 65 mph, but forecasters said it could become a hurricane before hitting the U.S.

Forecasters expected Hanna to strengthen only slightly before making landfall early Saturday, though hurricane watches remained for much of coastal North and South Carolina.

In the United States, a hurricane watch was issued for the area from Edisto Beach, S.C., north to Surf City, N.C. And a tropical storm watch was issued for Edisto Beach and south to Altamaha Sound, Ga. A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours. A tropical storm watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within 36 hours.

Bahamas National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest canceled all leave for the Bahamas Royal Defence Force to keep soldiers on standby for disaster response.

"I now urge the general public to take the necessary precautions," Turnquest said at a news conference Wednesday.

But as Hanna took aim at the heart of this Atlantic archipelago, islanders were also tracking two other storms churning westward in the open ocean, including Ike, which rapidly swelled late Wednesday evening into a ferocious Category 4 hurricane.

By Thursday afternoon, Ike had maximum sustained winds near 135 mph. It was centered 475 miles north-northeast of the Leeward Islands and forecasters said it could reach the Bahamas by late Sunday or Monday. It was moving toward the west-northwest at 14 mph.

Ike is the third major hurricane of the Atlantic season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The other two were Bertha and Gustav.

Ike is the third major hurricane of the Atlantic season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The other two were Bertha and Gustav, which was blamed for 112 deaths in the Caribbean, including 76 in Haiti.

Josephine followed behind, with maximum sustained winds near 45 mph and was moving toward the west-northwest near 10 mph.

"We've got three of them on the way. We've just got to be prepared," said Frank Augustine, a 47-year convenience store manager, as he bought 10 five-gallon water jugs under blue skies at a Nassau depot.