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Tropical Storm Chantal threatens Dominican Republic, Haiti

Tropical Storm Chantal barreled towards the Dominican Republic and Haiti Wednesday. Officials warned of possible landslides and heavy flooding from Tropical Storm Chantal.

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Up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain could fall in parts of the island of Hispaniola, which the Dominican Republic and Haiti share, the hurricane center said.

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The storm was located about 235 miles (380 kilometers) south of San Juan, Puerto Rico around 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) Wednesday, according to the hurricane center. The storm maximum sustained winds had decreased to 50 mph (80 kph), and it was moving west at 30 mph (48 kph).

Meteorologists with AccuWeather warned that the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico could be hard hit, given that some 13 inches (33 centimeters) of rain already have fallen in the capital of San Juan since June, nearly twice the normal rainfall for that period.

"Much of the landscape is primed for excessive runoff and flooding," AccuWeather said.

At least 17 roads will be closed as a preventive measure in the southern mountainous town of Yauco, where some 30 percent of the population lives under zinc roofs, Mayor Abel Nazario told the AP.

"When it rains a lot, a portion of the mountain comes down," he said. "That's always a concern."

Meanwhile, in the popular southwest tourist town of Cabo Rojo, crews cleared branches and debris to prepare for heavy rainfall, said Milton Llitera, the town's emergency management director.

"When this floods, it doesn't forgive," he told the AP.

A tropical storm watch was in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Vieques and Culebra and central Bahamas.

Chantal had raced through the eastern Caribbean early Tuesday, with officials in Dominica reporting that heavy winds ripped off the roofs of several homes. No injuries were reported there or anywhere else in the region.

Chantal also forced Carnival Cruise Lines to change the itineraries of two of its ships, the Carnival Liberty and Carnival Victory, spokesman Vance Gulliksen said.

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Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico and Lopez from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Associated Press writers Trenton Daniel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Carlisle Jno Baptiste in Roseau, Dominica; and David McFadden in Kingston, Jamaica contributed to this report.

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