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Hurricane Gonzalo pounds Bermuda with strong storms

(BBC ).-Hurricane Gonzalo has hit Bermuda with winds of about 175km/h (110mph).

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) has warned of high winds and “life-threatening storm surge” the after the eye of the hurricane passed the British Atlantic territory.

Eighty per cent of the island chain has lost power because of the hurricane, Reuters quotes Bermuda Electric Light Company as saying.

Bermuda, an affluent insurance hub, frequently sees strong tropical storms.

“I wish everyone all the best for the next 24 hours. Good luck and look after each other,” Governor George Ferguson said in an emergency broadcast ahead of Hurricane Gonzalo’s arrival.

The Miami-based NHC said that although the category 2 storm had weakened from earlier wind speeds of 205km/h (125mph), it was still expected to be a dangerous hurricane as it passed over Bermuda.

Hurricane Gonzalo was labelled as a category 4 storm on Thursday and was moved down to category 3 and then 2 on Friday.

Resident Hartley Watlington told the BBC: “We were attacked from all three sides. I am staying in my sister’s house. It is a traditional house so we have had to board all the windows up with wood and screws.”

“The eye of the storm has gone overhead, we are now in the second phase and that’s the worst part,” said Ian McPherson, 36, another resident of Bermuda, who said that Gonzalo was his third hurricane.

“It is pretty rough right now, I haven’t got any electricity. You can hear the wind and the rain and see all the trees blowing. It is so loud I won’t be sleeping tonight,” he added.

A webcam at the Royal Naval Dockyard at the port showed heavy rain, large waves and trees being shaken vigorously from the strong winds.

Hurricane-force winds were predicted to pound Bermuda for several hours.

One person died in the Dutch territory of St Maarten after Hurricane Gonzalo passed over the Caribbean.

The storm is being compared to the 2003 Hurricane Fabian which wreaked havoc on Bermuda, the most powerful storm to hit the territory in 50 years.

The winds then reached the same speed as Hurricane Gonzalo, and caused damage of about $300m (£187.3m).