Hurricane Maria, strengthened to a “potentially catastrophic” category five storm, tore into the Caribbean island of Dominica with sustained winds of 160mph (260km/h).
Dominica, a former British colony with a population of 72,000, is snuggled between Martinique and Guadeloupe. The hurricane made landfall at around 9:00 PM. Residents who live near coastal areas were ordered to go to authorized shelters. All airports and ports are closed.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, posted on Facebook that his roof had been torn off and he was “at the complete mercy of the hurricane.” His house was flooded, and he had to be rescued.
Hurricane Maria is expected to travel the same path as Irma and is likely to hit some of the same islands devastated by Hurricane Irma. Warnings are in effect for St Kitts and Nevis and Montserrat while hurricane watches are in place for St Martin, Saba, St Eustatius and Anguilla.
The nearby island of Martinique declared a maximum-level alert while another French island, Guadeloupe, ordered evacuations.
Hurricane warnings are also in place for:
- Turks and Caicos Island and the Bahamas
- Puerto Rico: Maria is expected to make landfall as a category three on Tuesday on this US territory. It escaped the worst of Irma and has been an important hub for getting relief to islands more badly affected. Islanders are encouraged to seek refuge.
- US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands: Both island chains suffered severe damage from Irma. British authorities fear debris left behind by Irma could be whipped up by the new storm and pose an extra threat. Yesterday, President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for the US territories.