Hurricane Sandy grew into a major potential threat to the east coast of the United States on Thursday after hammering Cuba's second-largest city and taking aim at the Bahamas, U.S. forecasters said.
U.S. government forecasters warned that much of the U.S. East Coast could get swiped by Sandy, with flooding, heavy rains and high winds from late Thursday. By early next week, it could hit an area of New England where Hurricane Irene caused severe damage last year.
Strengthening rapidly after tearing into Jamaica and crossing the warm Caribbean Sea, Sandy hit southeastern Cuba early on Thursday with 105-mph winds that cut power and blew over trees across the city of Santiago de Cuba.
Reports from the city of 500,000 people, about 470 miles (750 km) southeast of Havana spoke of significant damage, with many homes damaged or destroyed. According to one Cuban radio report, at least one person was killed, bringing the death toll to at least three after fatalities in Jamaica and Haiti.
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