Hurricane Irma: Strongest ever Atlantic storm causes ‘major damage’ in Caribbean – latest news
The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history has destroyed buildings and caused major flooding on several Caribbean islands, as British tourists are evacuated from the region amid warnings the storm will be “potentially catastrophic”.
The island of Barbuda was the first to bear the brunt of Hurricane Irma – a category five storm with winds of 185mph – early on Wednesday, churning along a path pointing to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly hitting Florida over the weekend.
The eye of the hurricane passed over Barbuda at around 1.47am (5.47am BST) before moving to the French islands of Saint-Barthelemy and Saint-Martin, which officials said had suffered “major damage” with even the “most sturdy” buildings destroyed by winds that tore off rooftops and knocked out electricity.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, but the French minister for overseas territories, Annick Girardin, expressed fear “for a certain number of our compatriots who unfortunately didn’t want to listen to the protection measures and go to more secure sites… we’re preparing for the worst.”