Anxiety also grew on the US Gulf Coast on the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and authorities in
Gustav was forecast to pummel the Cayman Islands and the western tip of before turning north and entering the
The center of the storm was expected to move back over water later Friday, where it could mushroom into a hurricane later in the day or Saturday, the US National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory.
Gustav’s powerful winds ripped off roofs and threatened to wreak havoc on ‘s banana industry, officials said. Maximum sustained winds slowed to 100 kilometres (65 miles) per hour early Friday.
The two international airports in were closed and the government urged residents to stay indoors. Streets in the capital city of
The storm could dump up to 25 inches (30 centimetres) of rainfall in parts of and trigger mudslides, flash floods and tidal flooding like those seen in .
Civil defence officials in the Haitian capital
Gustav struck the
Thursday, thousands of Haitians were still in emergency shelters, receiving government and NGO aid.
Gustav destroyed untold numbers of homes, bridges and other structures after floodwaters inundated entire villages in .
Officials said the death toll could rise.
"There are regions affected by the storm that our teams have not been able to reach," civil protection director Alta Jean-Baptiste told reporters in
"The majority of victims died when their houses collapsed, or were killed by falling trees. Others drowned when they tried to cross swollen rivers," she said.
The impact of the storm was worse coming just days after Tropical Storm Fay, which had lashed the
In the , Gustav left a wide swathe of destruction killing eight people and forcing more than 6,000 to abandon their homes, local authorities said.
In , more than 60,000 people were evacuated in eastern provinces as a precaution, authorities said.
Meanwhile, the eighth tropical storm of the hurricane season, dubbed Hanna, was churning in the
British oil group BP and rivals ConocoPhillips and Shell on Thursday evacuated workers from their energy installations in the
ExxonMobil said it was preparing for the storm and "identifying personnel for possible evacuation to shore."
About a quarter of crude oil installations are located in the
Oil prices fell sharply Thursday, however, as traders discounted the threat of the storm.
"The latest forecasts for Tropical Storm Gustav suggest a slightly lower chance of major disruptions in oil production," said Al Goldman, analyst at Wachovia Securities.