Hurricanes set to pound the States

PROVIDENCIALES - Hurricane Hanna stalled for hours over the southeastern Bahamas on Monday, lashing the islands with fierce winds and rain.

PROVIDENCIALES - Hurricane Hanna stalled for hours over the southeastern Bahamas on Monday, lashing the islands with fierce winds and rain.

Forecasters said it could threaten the southeast United States by midweek.

Meanwhile, tropical storm Ike emerged as a new threat in the open sea, as the National Hurricane Centre in Miami monitored three weaker weather systems moving westward across the Atlantic.

Hanna, with maximum sustained winds close to 130kmh, lingered for much of the day near Mayaguana and nearby islands in the southeast Bahamas.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage but emergency teams were standing by.

They would begin assessing the situation once the storm has cleared, said Stephen Russell, interim director of the Bahamas national emergency management agency.

"I'm quite certain there is going to be damage, particularly in Mayaguana," he said.

Hanna also was bringing strong winds, heavy rain and pounding surf to nearby islands, including Inagua and Crooked Island, and Turks and Caicos Islands to the south. It was expected to hit the southeastern US later in the week.

"Right now the uncertainty is such that it could hit anywhere from Miami to the outer banks of North Carolina," said Jessica Schauer Clark, a meteorologist at the US National Hurricane Centre.

Ike was approaching behind Hanna - still about 2250km out in the Atlantic Ocean, but expected to become a hurricane in the next 36 hours as it too approaches the Bahamas.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced a delay of at least a day in the planned move of the space shuttle Atlantis from an assembly building at Florida's Kennedy Space Centre to the launch pad. - - Sapa-AP

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