UK & World News
Hurricane Sandy: US Braces After 11 Die In Cuba
Hurricane Sandy has killed 11 people in Cuba and is now expected to batter the east coast of the US - after lashing the Bahamas.
Cuban state media announced that a four-month-old boy, who was crushed when his home collapsed, was among the dead as the east of the island was hit.
It reported nine deaths in the Santiago province in eastern Cuba, and two deaths in the Guantanamo area, bordering the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay. The oldest victim was 84.
Cuban authorities said most of the fatalities occurred when homes fell down, but the cause of some was still being investigated.
A total of 21 people have now died across the Caribbean as a result of the storm.
Hurricane Sandy has now made landfall in the Bahamas and, as it heads towards the US, predictions are mounting that it could bring destruction to the mainland far worse than last year's Hurricane Irene.
As the Category Two storm made its way towards the east coast, disaster experts and meteorologists warned that coastal states from the mid-Atlantic through to New England could be hit with dangerous winds and heavy rains.
Some forecasters even say Sandy could become a multi-billion-dollar disaster, though it is still too early to tell if its power and trajectory will bring about that worst-case scenario.
Hurricane Irene struck in August 2011, causing some $4.3bn (£2.7bn) in losses as unexpectedly heavy flooding hit from New Jersey to Vermont.
There are also concerns that Sandy could join with a winter storm already on course to hit New England and New York City next week.
Should the two storms merge, they could form what some are terming - in a nod to the upcoming Halloween holiday - a "Frankenstorm".
"When that occurs there can be a bit of a synergy, sort of a one plus one equals three effect," said Michael Kistler, a product manager at RMS, one of the main firms used by the insurance industry to model potential disaster exposure.
The White House on Thursday urged residents on the east coast to monitor weather reports and to heed any warnings from local officials in the days ahead.
It could possibly bring tropical storm conditions along the south eastern Florida coast, the Upper Keys and Florida Bay by Friday morning.
The storm tore down power lines and trees and damaged homes as it pounded Jamaica - crushing one man to death - before heading for Cuba and the Bahamas.