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Families ordered to flee as hurricane heads for island

Around 30,000 residents and visitors have been ordered to evacuate a US island as Hurricane Earl approaches.

Dare County issued the order for people in seven villages on Hatteras Island.

County spokeswoman Dorothy Toolan said people who chose to stay face up to 72 hours without help after the hurricane passes.

Earl's strongest winds are expected to reach the coast in the early hours of tomorrow.

The governors of North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland have declared a state of emergency ahead of the arrival of the bad weather.

Last night Earl was a powerful category 4 hurricane centred more than 680 miles south east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, with winds of 135mph.

Meanwhile the seventh tropical storm of the season formed far out in the Atlantic.