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HAVANA, Cuba - Gustav has grown to a Category 4 hurricane with 150-mph winds, U.S. forecasters said Saturday, as the storm pummeled low-lying areas of Cuba, threatened Havana and led to the evacuations of more than 240,000 Cubans.
Lights flickered in Cuba’s capital as shrieking winds blasted sheets of rain sideways though the streets and whipped angry waves against the famed seaside Malecon boulevard. State television stations went dark several times.
The storm is responsible for 81 deaths in the Caribbean. Along the U.S. Gulf Coast, thousands fled New Orleans and other low-lying areas ahead of a possible Tuesday landfall. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Gustav could become a Category 5 storm — the most dangerous level — packing 160-mph winds as it moves into the warm Gulf of Mexico. It should then revert to a still very dangerous Category 4 as it hits cooler waters just before landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast, the center stated.
four states in its potential path were expected to begin large-scale evacuations on Saturday.