Sandy becomes hurricane on way to Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) -- Hurricane Sandy pounded Jamaica with heavy rain and a powerful storm surge as it headed for landfall near the country's most populous city on a track that would carry it across the Caribbean island to Cuba, and then pose a possible threat to Florida. At least one person in nearby Haiti was killed after being swept away by a rushing river.

The island's international airports closed, cruise ships changed their itineraries and police ordered 48-hour curfews in major towns to keep people off the streets and deter looting as the late-season storm neared Jamaica's south coast. Police slowly drove through drenched communities in the capital of Kingston with their cruisers' lights flashing.

The 18th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season was forecast to make landfall in the vicinity of Kingston Wednesday afternoon and then spin on into eastern Cuba overnight. It was expected to pass west of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, where pretrial hearings were being held for a suspect in the deadly 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole off Yemen.

Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said tropical storm conditions were possible along the southeast Florida coast, the Upper Keys and Florida Bay by Friday morning. A tropical storm watch was in effect for the area, the center said.


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