The most powerful Atlantic Ocean storm in recorded history is sweeping across the Caribbean leaving destruction in its wake.
Hurricane Irma howled past Puerto Rico on Wednesday after thrashing several smaller islands with tree-snapping winds, drenching rains and pounding surf on a collision course with Florida.
The tiny island of Barbuda, which has a population of 1,800, and was devastated.
His government estimated destruction on Barbuda was “upwards of 90 per cent”.
As Irma hit the Caribbean, with winds of 185mph that sounded like a freight train, buildings were destroyed and hotels flooded.
“The winds that we are experiencing right now are like nothing we have experienced before,” Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello told CNN. “We expect a lot of damage, perhaps not as much as was seen in Barbuda.”
British tourists were evacuated from the region or hunkered down amid warnings the storm was “potentially catastrophic”. So far seven deaths have been reported- six in St Martin and one, a two-year-old child, in Barbuda
As the Caribbean takes stock of the trail of devastation, Florida is preparing for a potential direct strike. The eye of the hurricane passed over Barbuda at around 1.47am (5.47am BST).