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A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) image of Hurricane Maria approaching the Leeward Islands captured by NOAA's GOES-16 satellite, Sept. 18, 2017. EPA-EFE/FILE/NOAA/ HANDOUT
A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) image of Hurricane Maria approaching the Leeward Islands captured by NOAA's GOES-16 satellite, Sept. 18, 2017. EPA-EFE/FILE/NOAA/ HANDOUT

"My roof is gone": Hurricane Maria batters Dominica, heads to Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria on Tuesday battered the island of Dominica and is now moving towards St. Croix - Virgin islands - and Puerto Rico, with wind speeds of up to…

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Hurricane Maria on Tuesday battered the island of Dominica and is now moving towards St. Croix - Virgin islands - and Puerto Rico, with wind speeds of up to 250 kph (155 mph), according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) of the United States.

  At 2 am, the eye of the storm, located 380 kilometers southeast of St. Croix, was advancing in an east-northeasterly direction at a speed of 15 kph.

  Maria made landfall in Dominica - an island of around 75,000 inhabitants located between the French territories of Guadeloupe in North and Martinique in the South - at 9.15 pm local time on Monday with maximum sustained winds of up to 260 kph, as a category 5 hurricane, causing widespread damage.

  "So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace," Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in a statement, adding that his focus now is to rescue those who are trapped and providing medical assistance to the injured.

  Immediately after landfall, Skerrit had posted a series of updates on social media detailing the fury of the hurricane.

  "My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding," he wrote in one post, later adding that he was rescued.

  NHC predicted Maria - which weakened during its passage through Dominica and has now been reduced to a category 4 - will advance through the Caribbean on Tuesday fluctuating between category 4 and 5.

  The storm is expected to reach the Virgin islands and Puerto Rico during the night between Tuesday and Wednesday.

  The University of Barry on Monday evacuated 72 people from its St. Croix campus and shifted them to Miami in a private plane.

  St. Croix, the biggest of the Virgin islands, is inhabited by around 50,000 people.

  The Virgin islands and Puerto Rico have already borne the brunt of Irma, the powerful category 5 hurricane which caused 26 deaths in the Caribbean and left a trail of destruction in Barbuda, San Martin, northern Cuba and the Florida Keys. 

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