(Reuters) - Hurricane Irene, which strengthened to Category 3, was hitting the southeastern Bahamas hard, the National Hurricane Center said in a report on Wednesday.
At 5:00 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT), Irene was located about 30 miles east southeast of Long Island, Bahamas, packing maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour (195 km/h).
The core of Irene will move across the southeastern and central Bahamas Wednesday night and over the northwestern Bahamas on Thursday.
Some additional strengthening is forecast during the next day or so and Irene could become a Category 4 hurricane by Thursday, the NHC said.
(Reporting by Soma Das in Bangalore)