Hurricane Irma Pummels Turks and Caicos Islands
Albanian Daily News
Published September 8, 2017
Hurricane Irma has pummelled the Turks and Caicos Islands after leaving a trail of destruction across the Caribbean, killing at least 14 people.
Howling winds and rough seas battered the British overseas territory, experiencing a top-rated category five hurricane for the first time.
There has been some damage and flooding in Haiti, which is still recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquake.
Some 500,000 people were told to leave south Florida with Irma due on Sunday.
The hurricane's winds have moderated slightly, at up to 165mph (270km/h).
An estimated 1.2 million people have been affected by Irma and that could rise sharply to 26 million, the Red Cross says.
There are concerns that disease could spread rapidly in areas where drinking water and sanitation services have broken down, and officials have warned that the death toll is likely to rise.
Irma is near the Turks and Caicos Islands and is projected to move towards the Bahamas.
The storm is predicted to reach Cuba next, before hitting the US state of Florida at the weekend, with the head of the US emergency agency predicting a "truly devastating" impact.
On the archipelago of Turks and Caicos, with its population of about 35,000, one witness described a drop in pressure that could be felt in people's chests.
Irma ripped off roofs on the main island, Grand Turk, flooded streets, snapped utility poles and caused a widespread black-out.
Governor John Freeman told the BBC that people in low-lying areas were evacuated and sent to shelters. The islands' highest point is only 50m (163ft).
Virginia Clerveaux, director of the Turks and Caicos Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies, warned that even inland areas could be inundated by the storm surge.
"We are expecting inundation from both rainfall as well as storm surge. And we may not be able to come rescue [residents] in a timely manner."