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Storms dump heavy rain across northern Caribbean

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands braced for heavy rains and strong winds Friday as a cluster of storms swirled across the northern Caribbean.

The National Weather Service in San Juan said the region could be hit with up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain and wind gusts of 35 mph (56 kph).

Crews were clearing several downed trees and power lines in Puerto Rico as well as small landslides in the northern part of the island, the Emergency Management Agency said in a statement. One tree fell on top of a car and broke a woman's leg while she was driving in the north coastal town of Manati, police said in a statement.

Nearly 3,500 customers were without power, and more than 3,550 without water, officials said.

A flash flood warning was in effect for Puerto Rico until Saturday morning. Floods forced the closure of a couple of roads in northeastern Puerto Rico.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla authorized the majority of government employees to leave work early.

The National Hurricane Center said the cluster of storms had a 70 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or tropical storm over the weekend or by early next week as it heads toward the southeastern and central Bahamas.

Regional airline LIAT said it would cancel at least three flights as a result of the weather conditions.

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