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Tropical Storm Chantal moving between Martinique and St. Lucia

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    Digital writers

    Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 1:11 PM -

    Fast-moving Tropical Storm Chantal raced toward the small islands of the Lesser Antilles on Tuesday.

    The storm was moving between Martinique and St. Lucia, prompting residents to board up schools and close St. Lucia's two airports as it neared.

    On the forecast track, the centre of Chantal will move away from the Lesser Antilles later Tuesday and continue over the eastern Caribbean, the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Chantal is expected to be near or over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday.

    The government of the Dominican Republic has issued a hurricane watch from Barahona to Samana and issued a tropical storm warning for the entire coast of the Dominican.

    A tropical storm warning is also in effect for St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and the north coast of Haiti from Le Mole St. Nicholas eastward.

    A tropical storm watch is in effect for Haiti, the Turks and Caicos, the southeastern Bahamas, St. Vincent, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Vieques and Culebra, and the northern coast of the Dominican Republic from west of Cabo Frances Viejo to its border with Haiti.

    Chantal could be near hurricane strength before it reaches Hispaniola, the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Both countries are very vulnerable to flooding and landslides from storms, but widespread deforestation and ramshackle housing in Haiti mean even moderate rains pose a significant threat.

    Chantal is expected to produce rain accumulations of 50- 100 mm over the Leeward and Windward Islands with 75-150 mm possible over Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

    In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the U.S. Coast Guard urged all waterfront facilities to remove unsecured debris, hazardous material and pollutants from dockside areas. Pleasure craft operators were advised to seek safe harbour and secure their vessels.

    With files from The Associated Press

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