Hurricane Irma moving towards Virgin Islands
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (CMC):
Hurricane Irma was moving towards the Virgin Islands after pounding the British Overseas Territory Anguilla and St Martin as it makes its way through the Lesser Antilles yesterday.
The authorities in St Barthelemy and St Martin say that several buildings have been destroyed and there's a total electricity blackout.
They said in St Martin, government offices have been partly destroyed and the island's French Prefect and 23 staff are taking shelter in a concrete-lined room.
Police have also reported several roofs have blown off in the storm.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that the storm, a Category 5 hurricane, is located 65 miles east south east of St Thomas and about 140 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
"Irma is moving towards the west-northwest near 16 miles per hour (mph) and this general motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days.
"On the forecast track, the extremely dangerous core of Irma will move over portions of the Virgin Islands very soon, pass near or just north of Puerto Rico this (yesterday) afternoon or tonight, pass near or just north of the coast of the Dominican Republic Thursday, and be near the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas late Thursday," the NHC said.
It said maximum sustained winds are near 185 mph with higher gusts and that some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful Category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.
A hurricane warning has been issued for the north coast of Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St Nicholas, while a Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for the coast of Haiti from south of Le Mole St Nicholas to Port-au-Prince.
Warning and watches have been discontinued for several Caribbean countries including Guadeloupe, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat.