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Storm Marco closes in on Louisiana as Laura buffets Cuba

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — After a day as a hurricane, Tropical Storm Marco approached Louisiana for an expected landfall around midday Monday, while Tropical Storm Laura was forecast to move along Cuba's southern coast during the day before entering the Gulf of Mexico and heading toward the same stretch of U.S. coast later in the week, most likely as a hurricane.

Laura caused the deaths of at least 11 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, while knocking out power and causing flooding in the two nations that share the island of Hispaniola.

Marco had grown into a hurricane early Sunday, but the National Hurricane Center said its sustained winds decreased to 70 mph (110 kph) after nightfall. The center cautioned that Marco could still cause life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds along the Gulf Coast. It was centered about 185 miles (295 kilometers) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River land heading north-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph) late Sunday.

Laura was centered about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Camaguey, Cuba, late Sunday, and had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph). It was moving west-northwest at 21 mph (33 kph) and was predicted to strengthen into a hurricane by Tuesday morning as it followed a path likely to take it to the Louisiana coast by Wednesday night, forecasters said.

In the wake of Laura's passage through the Caribbean, authorities on Sunday reported at least 11 deaths.

Haitian civil protection officials said they had received reports a 10-year-old girl was killed when a tree fell on a home in the southern coastal town of Anse-a-Pitres, on the border with the Dominican Republic. Haiti's prime minister said at least eight other people died and two were missing. In the Dominican Republic, relatives told reporters a collapsed wall killed a mother and her young son.

Hundreds of thousands were without power in the Dominican Republic amid heavy flooding in both countries.

Despite Marco's weakening, a storm surge warning remained in place from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and a hurricane warning was kept from Morgan City to the mouth of the Pearl River. A tropical storm warning included Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, and metropolitan New Orleans.

A storm surge of up to 6 feet (2 meters) was forecast for parts of coastal Louisiana and Mississippi.

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Associated Press writers Freida Frisaro in Miami and Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans contributed to this report.

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