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Bermuda braces for direct hit from Hurricane Nicole


Some airlines have cancelled flights to the island

Some airlines have cancelled flights to the island

Some airlines have cancelled flights to the island

Authorities in Bermuda have closed schools and government offices as the British territory prepared for a direct hit from Hurricane Nicole.

The Category 2 storm was expected to strengthen a little before striking the island on Thursday morning.

The US National Hurricane Centre in Miami said Nicole was located about 270 miles south-southwest of Bermuda on Wednesday afternoon.

It had maximum sustained winds of 100mph and was moving north at 8mph.

Wind and rain were already increasing as business owners boarded up their shop fronts and placed sandbags outside.

Grocery shops were packed as people did last-minute shopping for hurricane supplies. One store owner said he had already sold half of his generators.

Crews at one marina were still lifting boats, although the majority of vessels were already neatly packed away between historical buildings in Mangrove Bay, a popular spot for water activities on the island's north-west tip.

American Airlines and Air Canada are among several that have cancelled flights to the island, and several cruise ships have cancelled trips as well.

While Bermuda has sturdy infrastructure and is accustomed to storms, government officials urged people to prepare for the hurricane and remain indoors.

"Please stay off the roads," said Erica Rance Mill, chairwoman of Bermuda's Road Safety Council.

"Hurricane Nicole is going to make the weather and road conditions very dangerous, and I would urge people not to take risks."

The hurricane is kicking up heavy surf in islands south of Bermuda including Puerto Rico, where authorities said they were looking for the body of a surfer, 37-year-old Gabriel Pantoja, who disappeared on Tuesday.