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Tropical Storm Rafael dumps rain in east Caribbean

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) — Tropical Storm Rafael lashed the eastern Caribbean Saturday with heavy rains that are expected to unleash floods on islands around the region.

The storm was located about 135 miles (215 kilometers) south-southeast of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands late Saturday morning. It had top sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and was moving north-northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm will gain some strength and will pass near or over the Virgin Islands Saturday night.

Flooding was reported in the eastern Caribbean island of Trinidad, where the storm caused a brief power outage at the island's main international airport late Friday. At least one flight was cancelled.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, Montserrat, St. Maartin and Guadeloupe.

Puerto Rico was under a tropical storm watch.

Meanwhile, tropical depression Patty disintegrated about 220 miles (350 kilometers) east-northeast of the central Bahamas.

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