Hurricane Maria: Second major storm to hit Caribbean, moves toward US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria: Second major storm to hit Caribbean, moves toward US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico

Ponce/Puerto Rico, September 19: Hurricane Maria, the second significant storm to hit the Caribbean this month, crawled toward the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Tuesday after it ripped through the small island nation of Dominica, causing widespread devastation.

Hurricane Maria, an “extremely threatening” storm, recaptured Category 5 strength as it churned about 205 miles (325 km) southeast of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, with highest, sustained winds of 160 mph (260 km/h), the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said early on Tuesday.

There was no report on deaths or injuries on the island from Maria, the third in a string of destructive hurricanes to sweep through the region in recent weeks.

The National Hurricane Center said just after 5 a.m. that the storm, now moving away from Dominica, had regained Category 5 strength, after briefly dropping to Category 4. It is expected to remain “extremely dangerous” as it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Tuesday night and Wednesday, the centre said.

“Initial reports are of widespread devastation,” Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said on Facebook. “So far we have lost all that money can buy and replace. My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains.”
The formerly French and British colony — an independent nation since 1978 — has an economy heavily dependent on tourism and agriculture, industries that would be extremely vulnerable to the ravages of a hurricane.
Hurricane Maria is the strongest storm on record to make landfall in Dominica, and it would be the first Category 4 or greater hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years.
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