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Hurricane Dean May Plow Into Jamaica, Cayman Islands (Update4)

By Kelly Riddell

Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Hurricane Dean was on course to lash Jamaica today with rain and sustained winds of about 145 miles per hour, then bear down on the Cayman Islands and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Dean was centered 130 miles (210 kilometers) east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, and 215 miles west-southwest of Port Au Prince, Haiti, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. New York time advisory today. The storm was heading west- northwest at about 18 miles per hour and forecast to strengthen to a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Preparations to protect people and property should be ``rushed to completion,'' the hurricane center in Miami said.

``The damage to Jamaica will be widespread, with roofs torn off, windows blown out, the infrastructure ruined and many people left homeless,'' said Bobbie Berg, a hurricane specialist at the center, in an interview.

The system is likely to bring ``life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,'' with rainfall of as much as 20 inches (51 centimeters), and flooding as high as nine feet above normal tidal levels, the hurricane center said. The effects may be felt as far away as Puerto Rico, where as much as two inches of rainfall was forecast, it said.

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