The U.S., U.K. and Caribbean nations pledged emergency aid to help Grenada recover from Hurricane Ivan, which left almost no structure standing, cut power and unleashed a wave of looting on the island country. The U.S. Agency for International Development declared Grenada a disaster area and sent a planeload of assistance, a statement on its Web site said. A U.K. warship helped in the cleanup, and Caribbean nations sent troops to restore order in the capital after Ivan slammed into Grenada Tuesday, packing 120- mile-per-hour winds. Ivan destroyed the island's sole prison, allowing convicts to escape, including the leaders of a coup that led to the 1983 U.S. invasion, the Associated Press reported. Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, in an interview on the Caribbean Community's Web site, described Ivan as a ``national tragedy'' that plunged the country into chaos and killed at least 25 people. Mitchell pleaded for an end to looting, and declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew. ``We can't afford to behave so in a time of national tragedy,'' Mitchell said. At least 90 percent of the buildings on Grenada, a nation of 89,000 people known as the world's second-largest nutmeg producer and for the U.S. invasion, were destroyed by Ivan, the Caribbean Community said. Ivan, which today headed toward Jamaica with 160- mph winds, also cut most power, phone and water service, informs Bloomberg. According to Reuters, Jamaicans are scrambling for supplies and fortifying their homes as a ferocious Hurricane Ivan sweeps nearer with 150 mph (240-kph) winds after killing at least 20 people on the tiny spice island of Grenada. Tourists fled the Florida Keys and residents of the 100-mile (160-km) island chain prepared for an evacuation on Friday as Florida braced for a third hurricane strike in a month, following Charley and Frances. Haiti, an impoverished nation prone to deadly floods and mudslides, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Cayman Islands also were readying for a possible Category 5 storm, only a handful of which have ever hit the Atlantic-Caribbean basin. Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson urged Jamaica's 2.7 million people to get ready. Ivan weakened slightly on Thursday from a Category 5 storm to Category 4, but forecasters said it could regain strength. Hurricane Ivan is now travelling at 160mph (258km/h), making it a category five storm, the highest on the scale. It has left scenes of devastation in the small island of Grenada where at least 12 people were killed, and other south-eastern Caribbean islands. Commonwealth Secretary Don McKinnon has called for urgent aid from members, and expressed concern about Jamaica. Jamaica is expected to take a direct hit on Friday, with the hurricane reaching western Cuba at the weekend. Hundreds of tourists gathered at the airport of Jamaica's Montego Bay resort on Thursday trying to flee the island, the Associated Press news agency reported. Schools were closed, and long queues formed outside shops as Jamaicans rushed to stock up. Some petrol stations ran out of fuel. Prime Minister PJ Patterson urged people to prepare for the worst, and pray. Meanwhile, Grenada is facing a massive clean-up after its pummelling by what is thought to be the worst hurricane to hit the Caribbean in a decade. Grenada's Prime Minister, Keith Mitchell, whose official residence was destroyed, told the BBC the island was "90% devastated" and that he had declared a national disaster. The capital St George's was hit by 200km/h (125mph) winds, flattening homes and disrupting power. The storm destroyed the city's emergency operations centre, the main prison, many schools, and damaged the main hospital, reports BBC NEWS. Read earlier news stories by PRAVDA.Ru
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