HAVANA (AP) -- Workers rushed to harvest tobacco and students evacuated communist farm camps as a strengthening Hurricane Michelle prepared to batter western Cuba and Havana, then threaten Florida and the Bahamas.
At 9 a.m. CST Saturday, Michelle was a dangerous category 4 storm with sustained winds near 135 mph. It was centered about 190 miles south-southeast of the western tip of Cuba, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami reported.
Michelle, which has already been responsible for 12 deaths in Central America and Jamaica, was likely to strengthen even more as it moved northward at 5 mph, the center said. Its winds were already stronger than Hurricane Lili, a category 3 storm that caused extensive agricultural damage and left thousands homeless in central Cuba in October 1996.
Hurricanes Andrew and Hugo were both category 4 storms.
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