MIAMI (AP) — Potentially catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane Maria is lashing the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico with rain.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the powerful storm was located about 195 miles (315 kms) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, at 3 p.m. Monday. It had maximum sustained winds of 165 mph (265 kmh) and was moving 10 mph (17 kmh).
The center said it was expected to remain an “extremely dangerous” category 4 or 5 hurricane when it passes near or over the Virgin Islands overnight, and Puerto Rico on Wednesday.
Earlier Tuesday, an official from the Caribbean island of Dominica says officials have been told that the hurricane tore the roofs off 70 percent of the island’s homes and that there have been unconfirmed reports of deaths.
Consul General Barbara Dailey told The Associated Press in a phone interview from New York that officials have not been able to reach anyone on the island since 4 a.m. Tuesday and that they are extremely concerned.
Maria swept over the island overnight as a Category 5 storm, the highest on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Dailey noted that her house on the island lost its roof, as did the official residence of the prime minister, Roosevelt Skeritt.
She says Dominica will be in desperate need of aid and emergency supplies in the coming days.
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