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US braces itself for superstorm

At least 38 people are dead after Hurricane Sandy cut a path of destruction through the Caribbean. Meteorologists are predicting a "Frankenstorm" if Sandy collides with a cold front in the US around Halloween.

Despite the Hurricane Sandy's weakening to Category 1 late on Thursday, forecasters are warning of potential havoc along the east coast of the US if the storm does indeed combine with the cold front.

The region was bracing itself on Friday for a potential hit over the next few days.

The US National Weather Service has issued warnings for the Florida coast and tropical storm watches for much of North Carolina, and advises that a "sprawling storm" could bring "significant rain, wind and waves to the northeast US" next week.

That comes after 38 people were killed in Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica as Hurricane Sandy swept across the Caribbean.

Watch video 01:20

Hurricane Sandy hits Carribean

On Friday, the storm was crossing the Bahamas, and on Thursday, winds of 175 kilometres per hour battered eastern Cuba and forced the evacuation of approximately 330,000 people. President Raul Castro was set to travel on Friday to the country's second largest city, Santiago de Cuba, to survey the damage.

Meantime, Hurricane Sandy is on track to disrupt the final week of campaigning before the US presidential elections on November 6. Utility services in and around Washington, DC, are beefing up their power restoration crews in preparation.

"There are many questions surrounding this hurricane and its forecast, but I find it important to convey that Sandy's impacts will be widespread, no matter the location of landfall," the hurricane expert Jeff Masters, from the private forecaster Weather Underground, wrote in a blog.

Masters also warned of a "billion-dollar disaster" if Sandy makes landfall along the US mid-Atlantic coast.

jr/mkg (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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