Heavy rain and 300 kph (185 mph) winds lash the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico’s northeast coast as Hurricane Irma roars through Caribbean islands on its way to a possible hit on South Florida.
The strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever measured destroyed homes and flooded streets across a chain of small islands in the northern Caribbean, passing directly over Barbuda and leaving the island of some 1,700 people incommunicado.
France sent emergency food and water rations to the French islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, where Irma ripped off roofs and knocked out all electricity. Dutch marines who flew to three Dutch islands hammered by Irma reported extensive damage but no deaths or injuries.
As of Wednesday evening, the center of the storm was 35 kilometers (20 miles) east-southeast of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and 150 kilometers (90 miles) east of San Juan, Puerto Rico and heading west-northwest at 26 kph (16 mph).
The US National Weather Service says Puerto Rico has not seen a hurricane of Irma’s magnitude since Hurricane San Felipe in 1928, which killed a total of 2,748 people in Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and Florida.