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Tropics | Hurricane Maria

Maria lashes Caribbean islands, photos of damage here

Digital writers

Thursday, September 21, 2017, 3:32 PM - The Dominican Republic fell victim to Hurricane Maria after the storm made a direct hit on Puerto Rico Wednesday, with sustained winds of up to 250 km/h, knocking out power to the entire island.

Maria has claimed the lives of at least 10 people, with all eyes on Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas.

As of 2 p.m. AST Thursday, Maria is a category 3 hurricane, with additional strengthening expected over the next several days.

Broken windows, rooms flooded: Hotels destroyed by Hurricane Maria

"On the forecast track, Maria's eye will continue to pass offshore of the northern coast of the Dominican Republic today, and then move near or just east of the Turks and Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas tonight and on Friday," says the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Maria landed near Yabucoa along the eastern side of Puerto Rico Wednesday. The storm ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and downed power lines.

A flash flood warning was issued for the entire island on Thursday, as the storm could produce an additional 100-200 mm of rain.

WATCH BELOW: Hurricane Maria floods streets and tears roofs in Puerto Rico, see it

According to Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello, one death has been reported so far. A man was hit by a piece of lumber caused by high winds.

"It's nothing short of a major disaster," Rossello told CNN.

The governor has put into effect a dusk-to-dawn curfew, expected to last through Saturday.

At category 4 strength upon landfall, Maria is the second strongest hurricane ever recorded to hit Puerto Rico. Prior to Maria, the 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane was the strongest, killing over 300 residents.

Meanwhile, dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves could raise water levels by as much as 4 to 6 feet above normal tide levels in parts of the Dominican Republic, according to the NHC.

Northern and eastern Dominican Republic could receive 200-400 mm of rain, with isolated amounts of up to 500 mm possible as Maria tracks north of the Caribbean nation.

Widespread damage in Dominica

Before slamming Puerto Rico, the storm was at full strength and boasting 260 km/h sustained winds when it made landfall over Dominica Monday night, an island nation of about 73,000 where at least seven people were killed and significant damage was reported.

WATCH BELOW: Hurricane Maria at landfall

Initial reports from Dominica suggest widespread devastation. The island's prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, reported on Facebook that he had to be rescued from his own house due to the storm's strong winds and intense rainfall.

"My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding," he wrote.

It's estimated that 65 to 70 per cent of buildings on St. Croix were damaged by Maria, according to Reuters.

A major disaster was declared in the U.S. Virgin Islands by President Donald Trump on Thursday. Federal aid was ordered to supplement recovery efforts in the territory, including temporary housing and home repairs.

Prior to Maria, Hurricane Irma killed at least 84 people across the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Reuters reports.

To the north, the island of Guadeloupe also was badly affected by Maria, with at least two deaths reported.

Social media showed submerged roads, vehicles and houses. The island is an overseas department of France, and the country's minister in charge of civil protection, Jacques Witkowski, says communications have been difficult.

Photos of Maria's devastation below.

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SOURCES: Reuters

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