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Sandy weakens but still headed for landfall in northeast U.S.

MIAMI, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Hurricane Sandy was downgraded on Saturday morning but remains a highly menacing tropical storm likely to have a major impact on the northeastern United States early next week, forecasters said.

Sandy was about 350 miles (565 km) southeast of Charleston, South Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph), just below hurricane strength according to the Saffir-Simpson scale of storm intensity.

The storm had picked up a little speed after leaving the Bahamas and was moving north northeast at 10 miles an hour (17 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center's 2 a.m. (EST)advisory (8 a.m. GMT).