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Hurricane Florence: 'Extremely dangerous' storm sparks US exodus

  • Packing maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (200 km/h), the storm was due to gain even greater strength before making landfall early on Thursday
    He estimated about 1 million residents would flee the coast of his state, following earlier orders for the evacuation of more than 50,000 people from the southern-most Outer Banks barrier islands of North Carolina. Packing maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (200 km/h), the storm was due to gain even greater strength before making landfall early on Thursday
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Evacuations have been ordered as the US East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence - in what may be the strongest storm to hit the region in decades.

South Carolina's governor ordered the evacuation of its entire coastline while North Carolina and Virginia have declared states of emergency.

Officials say Florence is now a category four storm with 130mph (200 km/h) winds, and gaining strength.

It is expected to strike the Carolinas by Thursday.

Florence - which was 1,200 miles (2,000km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, on Monday morning - started the day as a category two storm.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (200 km/h), the storm was due to gain even greater strength before making landfall early on Thursday, bringing heavy rains with the potential to unleash widespread, severe flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami.

Maps of the storm’s trajectory showed it likely to come ashore somewhere near the border of North Carolina and South Carolina. The governors of both states declared states of emergency.

“We do not want to risk one South Carolina life in this hurricane,” Governor Henry McMaster told a news conference.

He estimated about 1 million residents would flee the coast of his state, following earlier orders for the evacuation of more than 50,000 people from the southern-most Outer Banks barrier islands of North Carolina. An estimated 250,000 more people from the northern Outer Banks were due to be sent to higher ground starting Tuesday at midday.

“We are in the bull’s-eye,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said at a news conference. “This is going to be a statewide event.”