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Hurricane Irma has caused widespread destruction as it flattens homes during its path through the Caribbean.
The category 5 storm, the largest ever to form in the Atlantic Ocean, devastated the tropical islands when it landed on Wednesday, with Barbuda left “barely habitable” by the destruction.
Having grown in strength over the last few days, Irma is continuing to hurl towards the US state of Florida while countries such as Haiti and Cuba are bracing for its impact.
A two-year-old child is among those killed in the storm, with the current death toll of 10 expected to rise in the coming days as it journeys across the islands.
Hurricane Irma began to form in the Atlantic Ocean in late August, sparking warnings from the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) that the storm is heading straight for the Caribbean.
By Tuesday, due to favourable conditions in the Atlantic, the storm had rapidly intensified to become a Category 5 hurricane – the largest ever formed in the Atlantic.
It reached a peak intensity of 185mph as it began to bear down on the Caribbean.
On Wednesday, the storm caused widespread devastation across the small island of Barbuda as it made its first landfall, prompting Prime Minster Gaston Browne to say the island is “barely habitable”.
Here’s full path of Hurricane Irma so far and where the storm is expected to hit next:
Antigua and Barbuda, St Martin, St Barts, The British Virgin Islands and Anguilla – Wednesday, 8pm local time (Thursday, 1am BST)
The storm has already ravaged a series of small tropical islands in the eastern Caribbean, with Barbuda left “in rubble” with 90 per cent of its buildings destroyed.
A two-year-old child on the island became one of the first known casualties when he was killed as his family tried to escape the storm.
At least eight people are believed to have died when the hurricane struck St Martin.
Puerto Rico – Wednesday, 11pm local time (Thursday, 4am BST)
The hurricane reached Puerto Rico shortly after devastating the eastern islands. The body of the hurricane is currently travelling at a speed of 17mph, but with gusts of wind exceeding 185mph.
More than 300,000 residents are already reportedly without power as high winds crippled the country’s infrastructure.
Officials have warned the blackouts could last months after the storm passes, while emergency measures have been put in place.
The hurricane warning has since been lifted after a state of emergency was originally declared.
Dominican Republic – Thursday, 8am local time (11am BST)
As of 5am local time on Thursday, Hurricane Irma was roughly 210 miles away from hitting the Dominican Republic.
On Tuesday the state activated the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters so that humanitarian aid could be acquired in preparation for the storm.
The NHC has issued warnings about possible storm surges raising water levels to between 15 and 20ft.
Haiti – Thursday, 2pm local time (7pm BST)
Hurricane Irma is expected to hit the small island of Haiti some time on Thursday afternoon, though the complete path of the storm is still difficult to fully predict.
The NHC has warned storm surges in northern Haiti could cause flooding with water level rises of between 3 to 5ft.
In October 2016, when Hurricane Matthew struck the island hundreds of people were killed and areas of the country wholly destroyed.
As a Category 4 storm, Matthew was slightly weaker than the approaching Irma.
Cuba, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas – Friday, 2am local time (7am BST)
The storm is expected to arrive at Cuba and the Bahamas sometime early on Friday morning, according to the NUC.
Towns on Cuba’s eastern tip are still recovering from the impact of Matthew a year ago and residents have begun taking shelter in preparation for the storm.
The storm is expected to career north towards the small islands of the Bahamas shortly after hitting Cuba.
Florida, United States – Saturday, 8am local time (1pm BST)
It is expected Hurricane Irma will finally hit Florida early at the weekend, though the speed and strength of the storm could change as it passes over the Caribbean.
A state of emergency has already been declared in Florida, while holidaymakers were also told to flee the tourist hotspot.
US President Trump approved a federal emergency declaration for Florida ahead of the storm, freeing up federal funds, while state Governor Rick Scott said the storm was likely to be “extreme and life threatening”.
Schools have already been closed and residents evacuated.
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