Deaths Reported As Hurricane Irma Roars Through The Caribbean


Thursday, September 7th 2017, 3:24 am
By: News On 6


Officials say 1 person has died in Anguilla, raising Hurricane Irma's death toll to at least 10 in the Caribbean.

France's Interior minister says Hurricane Irma has killed at least eight people and left 23 injured on French Caribbean island territories.

Speaking on French radio France Info, Gerard Collomb said the death toll in Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy could be higher because rescue teams have yet to finish their inspection of the islands.

Hurricane Irma is moving to the northeast of the Dominican Republic after blacking out much of Puerto Rico and raking the U.S. territory with wind and rain.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the Category 5 storm's maximum sustained winds are near 180 mph. 

The hurricane center says some fluctuations in strength are likely during the next day or two but Irma is expected to remain a powerful Category 4 or 5 hurricane.

The strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever measured destroyed homes and flooded streets across a chain of small islands in the northern Caribbean, passing directly over Barbuda which left its nearly 1,700 residents largely incommunicado.

The hurricane warning for the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands has been discontinued, the National Hurricane Center said.

The National Hurricane Center said that a hurricane watches will likely be issued for portions of the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the National Office of Disaster Services for Antigua and Barbuda confirmed one death on Barbuda caused by Hurricane Irma. Spokesperson Midcie Francis says there has been massive destruction on the island.

"A significant number of the houses have been totally destroyed," said Lionel Hurst, the prime minister's chief of staff.

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne said Wednesday that damage to Barbuda may reach a total of $150 million, the Reuters news agency reports.

This is only the second time since satellites started tracking storms about 40 years ago that one maintained 185 mph winds for more than 24 hours, said Colorado State University meteorology professor Phil Klotzbach. The other was the massive killer typhoon Haiyan that killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines in 2013.

Hurricane Irma has had 185 mph winds longer than any other hurricane in recorded history, CBS News' weather producer David Parkinson reports.
Parkinson adds that although it appeared Irma had hit peak intensity earlier, it is going through another eyewall replacement cycle, which means the strongest winds will extend further from the storm. It is possible winds bump up to 190 mph Thursday.

"The storm has exceeded strength expectations thus far, and there is nothing ahead of the storm to indicate large scale weakening should take place," Parkinson writes. 

The U.S. National Weather Service said Puerto Rico had not seen a hurricane of Irma's magnitude since Hurricane San Felipe in 1928, which killed a total of 2,748 people in Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and Florida.

"We have to prepare for the worst," Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. "If we don't, it could be devastating."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.