Hurricane warning for Haitian quake refugees

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The Independent US

Authorities have urged hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in crowded tent camps to seek new shelter as Hurricane Tomas roars across the Caribbean with Haiti on its potential path.

Any heavy rains and gusty winds from Tomas would pose a significant threat to the more than 1.3 million homeless survivors now living in tent and tarpaulin camps in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

Tomas weakened slightly to a Category 1 storm after ripping off roofs and knocking down trees and power lines across several small Caribbean islands. The storm is expected to keep its strength through today. Forecasts show Tomas strengthening by tomorrow to a Category 3 or 4 hurricane as it passes south of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where more than a million survivors of January's devastating earthquake are living in sprawling tent camps.

Under some models of the storm's track, Tomas is forecast to make a turn to the north and head toward Haiti as early as Friday. Other projections show it shifting course farther east toward the Dominican Republic or even west toward Jamaica.

Tomas, the 12th hurricane of a very active 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, was packing top sustained winds of 90mph. In Haiti, the government and international aid groups are already struggling with a major cholera epidemic that has killed at least 330 people and left more than 4,700 people ill.