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Tropical Storm Andrea drenches Florida
by Staff Writers
Miami (AFP) June 6, 2013

Gusty monsoon kills 27 in Sri Lanka: official
Colombo (AFP) June 09, 2013 - Monsoon rain and strong winds in Sri Lanka have killed at least 27 people with many more wounded and missing, mostly fishermen caught in rough seas, an official said Sunday.

The navy and air force kept up a search for 29 fishermen listed missing since the monsoon lashed the south-western coast early Saturday, the spokesman for the Colombo-based Disaster Management Centre , Sarath Lal Kumara, told AFP.

A DMC statement said the toll had increased to 26 fishermen dead and another man killed on land, while a total of 35 people had been hospitalised since Saturday due to incidents caused by the weather.

"The weather has improved during the day and the rescue operations are under way," Kumara said.

More than 100 houses had been completely destroyed and over 2,100 left partially damaged due to strong winds, he added.

A government minister said assistance was being offered to bereaved families as well as to those who had lost their homes.

Sarath Kumara Gunaratne, deputy minister of fisheries and coordinator of disaster relief, said most of the victims were fishermen using very small boats that operated close to the coastline.

On Saturday officials confirmed the deaths of five people due to the monsoon which hits annually, bringing much-needed rain, but also frequently causing loss of life and damage to property.

Security forces were deployed to clear fallen trees and power lines strewn on several key highways, the military said.

A 20-foot (6-metre) whale washed ashore in Colombo on Saturday while a stranded giant sea turtle was rescued by locals at a suburb of the coastal capital, police said.

Authorities opened the sluice gates of four major hydroelectricity reservoirs in central Sri Lanka late Saturday to prevent damage to dams.

Seven people were killed in the country last month when a tropical cyclone brushed the eastern coast.

Tropical storm Andrea dumped heavy rains on Florida Thursday and threatened to bring high winds and rough seas to much of the US East Coast after earlier tearing across western Cuba.

At around 2140 GMT the first named storm of the Atlantic season made landfall in Dixie County, Florida, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Steinhatchee, according to the Miami-based US National Hurricane Center.

The storm -- which packed maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour and was moving to the northeast at 17 miles per hour -- could whip up tornadoes in central and southern Florida, the NHC said.

Forecasts take Andrea "into southeastern Georgia tonight before moving quickly up the US eastern seaboard through the weekend while gradually weakening," Florida's Emergency Operations Center said on its website.

"The primary effects from the storm are already impacting the state, with heavy rainfall expected across much of the Florida Peninsula, minor storm surge coastal flooding along the West Coast of Florida, and isolated tornadoes."

At least six possible tornadoes were reported in Florida.

Lacey Mitten told that she and her two children -- aged 11 and eight -- took cover in a bathtub as a possible tornado ripped through her neighborhood and damaged her home.

"My sister and I just looked at each other. It sounded like a freight train," Mitten said.

"We just got in the bathtub and held on."

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for a large section of Florida's west coast and reaching up north to Cape Charles Light in Virginia, the NHC said.

Minor damage and flooding was reported in coastal areas of Sarasota, south of Tampa, and Broward County to the north of Miami.

The storm was expected to dump up to eight inches (20 centimeters) of rain.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said this hurricane season -- from June 1 to November 30 -- will be particularly active, with up to 20 tropical storms and as many as 11 hurricanes -- up to six of them intense.

In Cuba, rain fell for a seventh straight day Thursday as Andrea moved away from the island's western tip after forcing the evacuation of 2,600 people.

More than 30 villages were cut off by water, and in one hamlet, more than 200 houses were submerged, the official newspaper Granma said.

The storm also damaged about 4,000 hectares of essential crops such as sweet potato, maize, cassava, melon and cucumber, according to the national news agency AIN.

Dried tobacco leaves were also ruined, along with seven tobacco houses.


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Tropical Storm Andrea moves toward Florida
Miami (AFP) June 6, 2013
Tropical storm Andrea churned toward Florida Thursday with the threat of heavy rains and tornadoes, after damaging crops in Cuba and forcing the evacuation of some 2,600 people. As of midday the first named storm of the Atlantic season packed maximum winds of 95 km per hour (60 mph) as it moved northeast at 22 kilometers per hour (14 mph). It was 255 kilometers (160 miles) west of Tampa ... read more

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