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Hurricane Irma : At least nine dead on St. Martin Island

16 September 2017

Irma is expected to hit Florida on Sunday.

The powerful tropical cyclone, which was barreling northwest toward the Caribbean islands already hammered by Irma, has weakened within the past 12 hours but remains a unsafe Category 4 storm, officials said.

The center of Irma is now forecast by the National Hurricane Center to move to westerly near the Cuban coastline for the rest of the day then begin the much talked about turn north as it reaches the edge of the Bermuda High that has been its primary steering current the last several days.

Hurricane Irma pounded Cuba's northern coast on Saturday.

In addition, Hurricane Katia in the Gulf of Mexico has maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour and is expected to make landfall in Mexico early Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said. These three could hit land at the same time on Saturday.

On the Dutch side of the island, known a St Maarten, the death toll from the hurricane was raised to four on Sunday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. Ninety per cent of government and commercial buildings have been damaged and water and power supplies disrupted. Around 9 million people could also lose power - some for weeks - thanks to the storm.

There were 24 deaths attributed to Irma throughout the Caribbean.

As of the 11 p.m. advisory on this Friday hurricane Irma is now back to a category 5 storm packing winds of 160 miles per hour.

Earlier warnings for Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus and Villa Clara were discontinued. The storm covers a huge area with its risky winds and rains. One person, a two-year-old boy, was left dead.

"It is desolate. People are overwhelmed", she said. He urged people to take the incoming storm seriously.

An AFP reporter said the deafening gusts of the wind were sweeping the province's main city Caribbean.

More than 6,000 people had been evacuated to higher ground in preparation for the arrival of Irma, which mostly grazed the island's coastline.

The latest forecast indicates that Jose could reach the northern Leeward Islands, where Irma first struck, by Saturday.

Irma inflicted catastrophic damage on several Caribbean islands, claiming the lives of at least 22 people.

St. Martin and St. Bart remained under tropical storm warnings as of Saturday evening.

It is a shocking view, flying onto the island of Barbuda. "It is just total devastation".

The powerful hurricane left a path of destruction in its wake, tearing off roofs, damaging buildings and bringing fearsome storm surges across the Caribbean. Many residents there have been evacuated ahead of Jose.

Cuban provinces of Holguin and Las Tunas have been warned of a tropical storm threat.

"The destination has lost entire structures and many homes are without roofs, or have been diminished to merely foundations", the BVI government said.

"This amount covers damages to homes, vehicles and businesses (including operating losses) that are covered by the natural disaster compensation scheme", CCR said.

"We are just asking that not just for ourselves - please, please call your local electives, call your assemblymen, call your senators, call your embassies and tell them you have citizens who are stranded here, Anguilla, St. Bart's and we just need to go home", Tiffany Bender told CBSN. Virginia and Alabama were under states of emergency.

In Cuba, officials reported "significant damage" in parts of the island's centre without providing further details, but said there were not yet casualties. "I am truly heartbroken by this news".

About a million people were without power in Puerto Rico after Irma sideswiped the island overnight, and almost half the territory's hospitals were relying on generators.

The Dominican Republic felt the wrath of the hurricane thereafter followed by the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas.

Hurricane Irma : At least nine dead on St. Martin Island