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Hurricane Joaquin heads toward Bermuda as search continues for missing cargo ship

With winds reaching up to 235 kilometers per hour, Hurricane Joaquin is headed toward Bermuda. The US coast guard, meanwhile, is still searching for a missing cargo ship which sailed through the hurricane in the Bahamas.

The US National Hurricane Center in Miami reported on Saturday that Hurricane Joaquin was continuing as a strong Category 4 hurricane as it moved northeastward toward Bermuda.

With maximum sustained winds of 235 kilometers per hour (145 miles per hour), the center said the eye of the hurricane should pass west of Bermuda on Sunday. But any deviation in the hurricane's path could bring its core, and stronger winds, closer to the island.

Meanwhile, swells generated by Joaquin were expected to continue to affect areas of the Bahamas over the coming days.

The El Faro container ship

The missing El Faro container ship has 33 people on board

Missing cargo ship

The US coast guard is expected to renew its search Sunday for a cargo ship that lost power and started to take on water when it sailed through the hurricane in the Bahamas. A crew of 28 US citizens and five Polish nationals is on board.

A life ring from the El Faro has been found 112 kilometers (70 miles) northeast of its last known position. The ship was en route to Puerto Rico from Florida when it lost contact with authorities.

A coast guard spokesperson said the crew of a C-130 airplane spotted the life ring Saturday and a helicopter crew confirmed it was from the El Faro. It has not been retrieved.

US southeast coast

While the US southeast coast has avoided a direct hit from Joaquin, the outer bands of the slow-moving storm brought torrential rains. There are forecasts of further heavy flooding.

One person was reported to have been killed by a falling tree in North Carolina. Three other people have died in weather-related accidents in South Carolina.

President Barack Obama issued an emergency declaration for South Carolina on Saturday. He ordered federal aid for areas affected by the flooding. The state's governor told drivers to stay off the roads and warned of power outages over the weekend.

"We are expecting historic levels of rainfall this weekend," Governor Nikki Haley said in a statement.

jm/cmk (Reuters, AP)

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