4 missing as Bermuda hit by most powerful storm in 50 years

4 missing as Bermuda hit by most powerful storm in 50 years

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Associated Press

HAMILTON, Bermuda — The most powerful hurricane to hit Bermuda in 50 years pushed away Saturday from the British territory after deadly winds split trees and swept trucks off roads. Four people were missing and feared dead as the storm roared northward into the Atlantic.

As Fabian's 120 mph winds vanished, officials were just beginning to get a picture of the widespread damage and injuries left in its wake.

Two police officers and two civilians were swept into white-capped waters Friday when wind blew their cars off a causeway connecting Bermuda to the airport, Police Commissioner Jonathan Smith said. Search teams and divers were looking for the four.

There were also reports of widespread flooding and looting, government spokesman John Burchall said, but the reports could not be immediately confirmed. Roofs on the four main police stations were also damaged.

"We have experienced a considerable beating," Burchall said.

Fabian's lashing winds shattered part of the airport causeway's wall and it was unclear whether the airport would reopen on Saturday, Burchall said. Hundreds of people were staying in five emergency shelters.

The storm knocked out power in 25,000 homes, tore tiles from roofs and made roads impassable with debris before it headed north into the Atlantic, where it was expected to weaken.

Many of the vacation spot's golf courses were in ruins. Several people had suffered minor injuries.

Premier Alex Scott was expected to tour damaged areas later Saturday.

"We are going to come together like we always do. The world will watch us and learn about real community," Scott said.

Fabian tested the wealthy British territory's vaunted ability to withstand a fierce storm. The island chain requires newly built houses to withstand sustained winds of 110 mph. The developed territory also has many underground power and phone lines.

However, Bermuda had not seen a Category 3 hurricane like Fabian since 1953 when Edna slammed into Bermuda with its 115 mph winds.

"It's terrific to watch but it's still intimidating," said Susan Chandler, 52, from Manhattan, who watched from her rattling hotel windows.

Islanders bolted themselves inside homes or fled to hotels, some of which reported gushing leaks.

Tourist Robert O'Leary, 59, of Centerville, Nova Scotia, was in Bermuda visiting his pregnant daughter. "We'll call the baby Fabian, I guess," said O'Leary, who nervously passed the time sipping Bermuda rum.

About 62,000 people live in the British territory.

Copyright © 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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