Hurricane Irma has pummeled Florida from coast-to-coast with winds up to 130mph, flooding homes and boats, knocking out power to millions of people and toppling massive construction cranes over the Miami skyline.
The 400-mile-wide (640-kilometer-wide) storm blew ashore in the mostly cleared-out Florida Keys, then marched up its western coast, its punishing winds extending clear across to Miami and West Palm Beach on the Atlantic side.
Irma, which has killed at least 28 people after pushing through the Caribbean, was considered a life-threatening danger in Florida as well, and could inflict a natural disaster causing billions of dollars in damage to the third-most-populous US state.
While Irma raked Florida's Gulf Coast, forecasters warned that the entire state was in danger because of the sheer size of the storm.
In one of the largest US evacuations, nearly seven million people in the Southeast were warned to seek shelter elsewhere, including 6.4 million in Florida alone.
Residents and holidaymakers were ordered to stay indoors until the storm had passed, with many Brits left holed up in apartments or hotel rooms.
About 30,000 people heeded orders to leave the Keys as the storm closed in, but an untold number refused, in part because, to many storm-hardened residents, staying behind in the face of danger is a point of pride.
fter leaving Florida, a weakened Irma is expected to push into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and beyond. A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, some 200 miles (320 kilometers) from the sea.
President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for Florida, opening the way for federal aid.
Good morning, welcome to our ongoing live coverage of Hurricane Irma.
Irma pummeled Florida from coast-to-coast with winds up to 130mph, flooding homes and boats, knocking out power to millions of people and toppling massive construction cranes over the Miami skyline.
The hurricane is now showing signs of weakening and could be downgraded to a tropical storm.
Irma has now weakened to a Category 1 storm as the massive hurricane zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region.
The hurricane's maximum sustained winds weakened to 85mph (135kph) with further weakening expected.
Dozens of looters have been arrested across Florida as they tried to break into empty businesses and homes, authorities report.
Much of downtown Miami is flooded, with at least three construction cranes toppled.
More than 3.3 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power, and utility officials said it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone.
Here are the peak wind speeds over the last 24 hours...
Hurricane Irma leaves people 'fighting in the streets' over final food suppliesAt dawn in St. Martin, people began to gather, quietly planning for survival after Hurricane Irma. They started with the grocery stores, scavenging what they needed for sustenance: water, crackers, fruit. But by nightfall on Thursday, what had been a search for food took a more menacing turn, as groups of looters, some of them armed, swooped in and took whatever of value was left: electronics, appliances and vehicles.
Irma is centred about 25 miles (40 kilometres) northeast of Tampa is is moving north-northwest at around 15mph (24kph).
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