MIAMI (AP) - A tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to strengthen to a tropical storm as it moves toward the site of the oil spill off Louisiana's coast.

The depression has maximum sustained winds near 35 mph (55 kph)
early Wednesday but is expected to reach tropical storm strength later in the day or Wednesday night.

A tropical storm warning has been issued for much of the Gulf Coast from Destin, Fla., to Intracoastal City, La. - including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.

The depression is located about about 290 miles (470 kilometers) east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and is moving northwest near 10 mph (17 kph).

BP and Coast Guard officials have halted drilling on a relief well intended to permanently plug the blown-out oil well in the Gulf.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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