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BERMUDA RESIDENTS BRACE FOR HURRICANE FELIX

Hurricane Felix advanced on this Atlantic resort Monday, smacking it with high winds, wracking residents' nerves and forcing the cancellation of all commercial flights.

The government said a referendum on independence from Britain would be held as scheduled - with local options to postpone.One person drowned in North Carolina while trying to warn children out of storm-whipped rough waters. The National Weather Service issued an advisory urging the U.S. East Coast from the Carolinas northward to monitor Felix's prog-ress.

Bermudans, shaken two years ago by Hurricane Emily, were hoping Felix would inflict less damage on the island chain.

National Hurricane Center spokesman Max Mayfield said in Miami that the core of the storm could arrive by night.

Richard Pasch, a forecaster at the center, said Felix will probably be closer to the U.S. East Coast by midweek and may turn north. "Beyond that, it's speculation," he said.

Felix was about 185 miles southeast of Bermuda at 8 a.m. Monday and moving at about 10 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Bermuda lies in the Atlantic Ocean about 800 miles off the Carolina coast.

Premier John Swan said early Monday that Tuesday's independence referendum couldn't be postponed without recalling Parliament, which is on summer vacation. Instead, he said, officers at each polling station will have the option of delaying the vote for 24 hours if the storm is causing too much havoc.

Swan himself was dubious.

"If you were being hit on Tuesday by a hurricane, you couldn't very well ask people to come out and vote," he said.

As the hurricane watch became a warning, police urged people who live in low-lying areas to move to higher ground.

Felix was expected to pass 50 miles southwest of Bermuda on Tuesday afternoon, forecasters said.