Gustav swirled toward Cuba on Wednesday after triggering flooding and landslides that killed at least 22 people in the Caribbean. Its track pointed toward the U.S. Gulf coast, including Louisiana where Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc three years ago.
Oil prices jumped above US$119 a barrel as workers began to evacuate from the offshore rigs responsible for a quarter of U.S. crude production and much of America's natural gas.
"We know it's going to head into the Gulf. After that, we're not sure where it's heading," said Rebecca Waddington, a meteorologist at the Miami-based National Hurricane Center. "For that reason, everyone in Gulf needs to be monitoring the storm. At that point, we're expecting it to be a Category 3 hurricane."
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