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Tourists ordered off tiny US island ahead of Irene
Thousands ordered off isolated US island ahead of Hurricane Irene's approach to East Coast
By The Associated Press

WILMINGTON, North Carolina (AP) ' Tourists on a small North Carolina island have been told to evacuate as Hurricane Irene heads for the East Coast, and it will be the first test of whether people heed orders to get out of the way of what could be a monstrous storm.

It won't be an easy task to get thousands of people off Ocracoke Island, which is accessible only by boat. Ocracoke is home to about 800 year-round residents and thousands of vacationers each summer. Tourists were told to evacuate Wednesday. The island's residents have been told to evacuate Thursday.

The state-run ferry service starts running at 5 a.m. Wednesday. The ferry off the island will be free during the evacuation. The boats can carry no more than 50 vehicles at a time.

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