Hurricane Ivan Tears Through the Caribbean

* The strongest hurricane to hit the Caribbean in 10 years swept across the island region yesterday, heading for a possible landfall in Florida on Sunday.

Hurricane Ivan, with prolonged winds of 160 miles per hour, was upgraded to Category 5, the highest rating of a hurricane's power. At least 20 people have been killed in the storm, including a 75-year-old woman on Barbados who drowned when she went out to search for her cat.

On the island of Grenada, Ivan's punishing gales damaged 90 percent of the homes and demolished a 17th-century stone prison, whose inmates scurried for freedom. Some houses were reduced to rubble, and much of the nation's agriculture, including its large nutmeg crop, was destroyed.

Schools were closed on Jamaica and fishermen were told to pull their boats ashore and head inland for safety, as the storm was expected to hit today.

On the U.S. mainland, residents and tourists evacuated the Florida Keys, an island chain that stretches into the Gulf of Mexico southwest of Miami. Ivan is the third hurricane that Floridians have had to contend with in the past month, on the heels of Charley and Frances.