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Bermuda weathers Hurricane Fiona as storm heads toward Canada

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico continues to grapple with widespread power outages in the wake of the deadly hurricane.

Hurricane Fiona brought heavy rain and strong winds to Bermuda, but the North Atlantic island largely weathered the storm and is now moving towards eastern Canada, where it is expected to be one of the worst in the country’s history.

Overnight the storm approached Bermuda as a Category 4 monster hurricane, but dropped one notch to Category 3 as it passed well west of British territory, 1,126 km (700 miles) from the US state of North Carolina.

Still, gusts reached up to 165 km/h (103 mph) with sustained winds of up to 128 km/h (80 mph), the Bermuda Weather Service said in a bulletin.

The Bermuda Electric Light Co, the island’s only electric utility, said about 29,000 customers, or more than 80 percent of its customer base, were without power as of Friday morning.

But Michelle Pitcher, deputy director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said the area appears to be largely unscathed.

“It’s been a long night but there are no reports of injuries or deaths,” she said. “There may be people with roof damage, but so far we haven’t heard anything bad. As I said, we build our houses strong.”

The latest forecasts show Fiona making her next landing at Cape Breton Island, home to about 135,000 people in Canada’s eastern province of Nova Scotia, Environment Canada said on Friday.

A hurricane warning was in effect for most of central and eastern Nova Scotia, as well as Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The eye will move over Nova Scotia later on Friday, the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Saturday and Labrador on Sunday.

Forecasters say areas near its path could get up to 200mm (8 inches) of rain, while winds could damage buildings and cause power outages, with storm surges inundating coasts. The country’s two largest airlines, Air Canada and WestJet Airlines, will suspend air service in the region from Friday evening.

Fiona is shaping up to be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Canada in decades, comparable to Juan in 2003 and Dorian in 2017.

“A lot of the computer forecast models suggest this could set a record for the lowest observed barometric pressure in Atlantic Canada,” said David Neil, meteorologist at Environment Canada. “So this has every chance of being a very, very intense storm and a possible record holder.”

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico continues to grapple with widespread power outages after Fiona was blamed for eight deaths on the island and caused heavy rains that cut off hundreds of residents from much-needed supplies.

A growing number of businesses, including grocery stores and gas stations, are temporarily closing across the U.S. territory as the outages drag on, raising concerns about the availability of fuel and basic necessities.

Handwritten signs warning of closures are popping up with increasing frequency, drawing sighs and groans from customers on an island where 62 percent of 1.47 million customers are still without power more than four days after the hurricane struck.

Betty Merced, a retiree living in the southern coastal town of Salinas, said she had been searching for diesel to top up her generator for several days to no avail. She uses a sleep apnea machine and can’t risk not going without it.

“There are many people with many needs,” she said. “If there is no diesel, we are very much in danger.”

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