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Hurricane Gonzalo blacks out most of Bermuda

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Media captionHurricane Gonzalo swept by the eastern Caribbean earlier this week before heading north towards Bermuda

Hurricane Gonzalo has hit Bermuda, cutting power to many residents.

The category 2 hurricane caused flooding, felled trees, knocked down power lines and damaged buildings, including the island's main hospital.

Wind speeds of up to 175km/h (110mph) were reported, making it the strongest storm to hit the British overseas territory in a decade.

However there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries and emergency services are now clearing the wreckage.

The Royal Navy has deployed a frigate, HMS Argyll, along with trained medical personnel to help with the provision of humanitarian assistance in Bermuda, the UK Ministry of Defence said.

It said the ship was en route to Bermuda, where it will help recover power, communications and water supplies, while a helicopter on the ship will carry out surveillance over the island.

Bermuda, a group of islands in the western Atlantic, frequently sees strong tropical storms.

Just days ago, Tropical Storm Fay damaged homes and knocked down trees and power lines there.

"To be struck twice by two different cyclones is unusual, to say the least," said Max Mayfield, a former director of the US National Hurricane Center in Miami.

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Media captionHurricane Gonzalo

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

Terrified islanders sheltered in darkness from Gonzalo as power was cut to some 31,200 homes, accounting for most of the island's 64,900 residents, Bermuda's Royal Gazette said in a report.

Anna Neilson-Williams who lives in Bermuda told the BBC: "After the eye of the storm passed the intensity of the wind was incredible: for a couple of hours we thought the entire windows were going to come in."

Gonzalo was labelled as a category 4 storm on Thursday but downgraded to category 3, then 2, on Friday. The storm is being compared to Hurricane Fabian in 2003, 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).

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