Hurricane Irma: blackouts and flooding on St Martin as winds destroy sturdiest buildings – live
French officials confirm flooding and blackouts on St Martin and St Barthélemy
The French government has confirmed widespread flooding and electrical blackouts on the islands of St Barthélemy and St Martin.
In a situation report time-stamped 7.30am (it is now 8.25am) breaks down the impact on both islands.
The fire station is under 1m of water and fire engine are out of service. Firefighters are taking refuge of the first floor.
Several homes have been damaged and roofs blown off.
There is a total electricity blackout and the main EDF sub station is out of action.
Government offices have been partly destroyed.
The island prefect and 23 staff are taking shelter in a concrete-lined room.
The fire station has been damaged
The island has been without electricity since 6am
Police have reported several roofs have blown off in the storm
Irma, a category 5 hurricane has hit the Caribbean islands of St Martin and St Bartélemy after earlier making landfall on the island Barbuda with winds of up to 185mph (295kph) and heavy rain. The French interior ministry has issued a high alert for the islands. Video from St Martin showed widespread flooding.
President Donald Trump says his administration is closely watching Irma as it heads towards Florida. He tweeted that his “team, which has done, and is doing, such a good job in Texas, is already in Florida.”
Irma has become the most powerful ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean. The US National Hurricane Center has warned of a “potentially catastrophic” impacts and urged “preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion” in the islands in its immediate path.
Tropical storm Jose, the weather system behind Irma, is now forecast to become a hurricane by tonight. It is forecast to hit the Caribbean islands currently being lashed by Irma, at the weekend. Another tropical storm, Katia, has formed in the Gulf of Mexico.
A red alert for Guadeloupe has been lifted, after Hurricane Irma passed further north than feared. The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browe, said the islands were spared worst. There was similar relief in St Kitts and Nevis.
The British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas are also due to be hit. A mandatory evacuation of islands in the southern Bahamas will take place on Wednesday.
The hurricane is also forecast to hit the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, and Cuba, before Irma heads, potentially, for Florida at the end of the week.
The NHC has also warned of heavy rainfalls of around 8-12 inches (20-30cm), and up to 20 inches (50cm) in some areas. It cautions: “These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.”