Irma path – live updates: At least 19 dead in Caribbean as hurricane on course to ‘devastate US’

The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history has killed at least 14 people after tearing through the Caribbean, and is now on course to “devastate the United States”, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has warned.

Hurricane Irma is now heading towards Florida, which is on high alert and has ordered half a million people to evacuate. The Carolinas and Georgia have also declared emergencies.

The Category 5 storm, had maximum sustained wind speeds of 185mph on Thursday, according to the US National Hurricane Centre.

It was downgraded to a Category 4 with 150mph winds on Friday but remains “extremely dangerous.”

The storm, of “nuclear” ferocity, has churned along a path through the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico, and towards the Dominican RepublicHaiti and Cuba. Residents of Florida are preparing for a potential hit over the weekend. Irma’s eye passed directly over the island of Barbuda, meaning its inhabitants were twice subjected to the fastest winds.

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