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Hurricane Irma: Pictures show devastation wrought on Caribbean by strongest storm in Atlantic history

Buildings collapse and cars swept away as storm tears through region

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 06 September 2017 15:28 BST
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Debris lies in a flooded street in Saint Martin
Debris lies in a flooded street in Saint Martin (@la1ere)

The first pictures have emerged of the damage wrought by Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean.

France said the storm had caused major damage across a number of islands in the region and had destroyed the four "most solid" buildings on Saint Martin.

Roads became torrents of water and some images showed cars being swept away.

Floodwater sweeps away debris in Philipsburg, Saint Martin (Météo Express)

On Anguilla, one tour operator said Irma had scored a "direct hit".

The hurricane is roaring along a path pointing to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba. Forecasters think it could hit the US state of Florida over the weekend.

A torrent runs along a street in Saint Martin (@la1ere)

The eye of the storm passed over Barbuda at about 1.47am, the US National Weather Service said.

Heavy rain and howling winds raked the neighbouring island of Antigua, sending debris flying as people huddled in their homes or government shelters.

(@la1ere)

Officials warned people to seek protection from Irma's "onslaught" in a statement that closed with "May God protect us all".

The most dangerous winds, usually nearest to the eye, were forecast to pass near the northern Virgin Islands and near or just north of Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, while authorities in the Bahamas said they would evacuate six southern islands.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the twin-island nation appeared to have weathered its brush with Hurricane Irma.

Mr Browne said in a statement that there were no deaths in Antigua.

He said at preliminary reports also indicate there are no deaths in Barbuda despite widespread reports of damaged buildings and downed trees.

He plans to visit as soon as possible.

Additional reporting by agencies

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