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Hurricane centre feels Andrew's fury

MIAMI - A petrol price sign crushes the roof of a car parked at a service station as Hurricane Andrew lashes south Florida early yesterday at speeds of up to 168mph.

A 7pm to 7am curfew was imposed in all of Dade County as Governor Lawton Chiles declared a state of emergency and called out 1,500 National Guard troops and police Swat teams to guard against looting. Up to 100 people tried to loot stores at a shopping mall but were run off by the National Guard, writes Robert Block.

Several incidents of looting were reported in the Miami area where more than one million people were told to evacuate their homes for higher ground. An estimated 1.2 million residents were left without power in Dade and Broward County to the north and were forced to boil water as supplies became contaminated.

Ironically, the worst victim of Hurricane Andrew's fury was the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables south of Miami. Charged with tracking tropical storms and acting as the United States' nerve centre during a hurricane, the centre was put out of action when a recorded 168mph gust ripped the radar equipment off the building that houses the organisation. It knocked the centre out of operation for seven hours and left television broadcasters to use grease pencil maps of Florida and guesswork instead of satellite images.

Insurance losses, page18

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