Hurricane hits Hawaii

HONOLULU, Hawaii (Reuter) - President George Bush yesterday declared a disaster area in Hawaii as the National Guard rushed aid to the resort island of Kauai, devastated by Hurricane Iniki - the worst storm to hit the US island chain this century.

'It looks as though there could be total destruction on the island,' said a Hawaii Civil Defence spokeswoman. Eight people were taken to the largest hospital on Kauai, most with broken bones and one with a heart attack. The hurricane, packing winds of up to 160 miles per hour, brushed past the heavily populated island of Oahu and slammed on Friday into Kauai, a tourist resort of about 90,000 people.

Thousands of people in Kauai, an island dominated by breathtaking volcanic mountains that tower up to a mile high, were evacuated to the coast. Telephones, electricity and water supplies were knocked out on the island, swollen at this time of the year by 10,000 tourists.

Beaches were pounded by waves up to 30 feet high which devoured oceanside properties, according to preliminary reports.

National Guard aircraft took off from the island of Hawaii at dawn yesterday carrying 300 Guardsmen and heavy equipment, including bulldozers, to help Kauai's recovery efforts.