Hurricane Ivan pounded Jamaica with heavy rains and winds exceeding 155 mph as the intensifying Caribbean storm skirted the island's southern and western coasts today and advanced on a path that could bring it close to Florida by Monday. As the rare Category Five storm moved away from the island this afternoon, sustained winds reached 165 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. While Ivan's unexpected western drift spared Jamaica from the hurricane's worst winds and rains, massive waves and flooding storm surges of 20 to 25 feet drenched the island's southern coast. Heavy rains continued in the capital city of Kingston all day and flooding and mudslides struck communities across the island. News services reported at least four storm-related deaths in Jamaica, adding to the storm's toll across the Caribbean, including more than 30 deaths in Grenada. Sporadic looting and some violence also were reported in Jamaica. The Reuters news agency, quoting local police, said authorities shot and killed one man in a gunfight with looters at a Kingston supermarket. As it approached Jamaica late yesterday, Ivan's force verged on turning it into a Category Five storm, the highest and most catastrophic level on the Saffir-Simpson scale used by forecasters to measure a hurricane's intensity. An Air Force reconnaissance flight today found the storm had intensified to that level again, the National Hurricane Center said this afternoon, informs the Washington Post. According to WFAA, millions more people are in its path, with Ivan projected to go between the Cayman Islands, make a direct hit on Cuba and then either move into the Gulf of Mexico or hit South Florida. The Hurricane Center said Ivan's strengthening was measured by a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane. Deadly Hurricane Ivan has ripped Jamaica with powerful winds, torrential rains and huge waves, tearing away houses and washing out roads before heading toward the Cayman Islands and Cuba. Ivan, which has killed at least 34 people -- mostly on the devastated Caribbean island of Grenada -- was upgraded to a rare, top-intensity Category 5 hurricane with winds of 165 mph as it blasted past Jamaica on Saturday afternoon. The hurricane gave Jamaica's 2.7 million people a small, last-minute reprieve when its centre suddenly wobbled westward, keeping the most catastrophic winds off the south coast and out of the capital, Kingston, where tens of thousands of people live in flimsy shanties in the slums. But the verdant, mountainous island still got hammered, reports Reuters. "They did get hurricane-force winds and there are reports of serious damage," U.S. National Hurricane Centre meteorologist Jennifer Pralgo said.
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