Hurricane Igor brushes Bermuda en route to Newfoundland

Hurricane Igor barrelled north-eastwards toward Canada early today, leaving behind power cuts, grounded boats and downed trees in Bermuda and kicking up dangerous surf on the US Atlantic coast.

A tropical storm warning was in place for the coast of Newfoundland, where people were urged to prepare for possible power failures and flooding from heavy rain.

Canadian company Husky Energy evacuated workers from two semi-submersible drilling rigs working the White Rose offshore oil field, spokeswoman Colleen McConnell said.

Igor doggedly stayed just above hurricane strength, with maximum sustained winds of 120kph. Late yesterday, the storm centre was about 605km south-southwest of Newfoundland and moving to the north-east at 48kph, the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami said.

After brushing past Bermuda, Igor veered away from the United States, but forecasters said it could still cause high surf and dangerous rip currents along US beaches.

A 21-year-old man died while surfing in the storm-churned waves off Surf City, North Carolina, where he was pulled from the water on Sunday afternoon.

Last week, high surf kicked up by Igor swept two people out to sea in the Caribbean – one in Puerto Rico and another in the US Virgin Islands.

Bermuda, a small British territory, escaped major damage and injuries when Igor passed about 40 65km to the west on Monday night. High winds toppled trees and utility poles, and several boats were pushed aground, including the ferry Bermudian used to carry cruise ship passengers to shore.

Bermuda’s power utility said electricity was knocked out for approximately half the island, which has 68,000 inhabitants.

In Mangrove Bay at the island’s western end, two yachts were driven on to the shore, their masts leaning against trees. A fishing vessel also ran aground nearby with a large hole in its side. The cruise ship ferry ran aground near the town of St George.

Islanders said the impact did not compare with Hurricane Fabian, which killed four people when it hit Bermuda as a Category 3 hurricane in 2003.

“This was a powder puff compared to Fabian,” Claude Wright, 67, said as he surveyed the damage yesterday.

Richard Simons, who rents out cottages near Elbow Beach, said he found only broken branches on his property.

“It will just take some sweeping and raking to clean up,” he said.

In Mexico, meanwhile, authorities increased the toll of known dead to 16 from flooding and mudslides as Hurricane Karl hit the southern part of the country on Friday.

Looting was reported yesterday in parts of the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, with people carrying bags of food out of stores in waist-deep water.

Far out in the Atlantic, a tropical depression formed late yesterday and was likely to strengthen into a named storm, the US Hurricane Centre said.

The 14th depression of the season was more than 805km from the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. It had winds of 55kph and was moving north at 9kph.

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