Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico: NHC

Hurricane Maria has made landfall near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Wednesday.

The hurricane is about 35 miles (55 km) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour (250 km per hour), the NHC said, adding that it is moving in a north-westerly direction at 10 mph (17 km/h).

This is a breaking news alert. Please check back for updates. The previous Reuters report is below.

25 PHOTOS
Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico
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Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico
A man looks for valuables in the damaged house of a relative after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A damaged house is seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria en Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A damaged supermarket is seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Damaged electrical installations are seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria en Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man rides a bicycle next to a flooded road after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Debris and damaged electrical installations are seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria en Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A woman cuts a fallen tree into pieces after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Toys are seen in a damaged house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A damaged pier is seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Puerto de Jobos, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Damages are seen in a supermarket after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A man runs on the street next to debris and damaged cars after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Damages are seen in a supermarket after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Constructions debris are carried by the wind after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Agapito Lopez looks at the damage in his house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Branches lie on the ground as trees blow in the wind from the passage of the Hurricane Maria, seen outside Roberto Clemente Coliseum where residents have sought shelter in San Juan, Puerto Rico, early on September 20, 2017. Hurricane Maria closed in on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on September 20 as forecasters warned of a 'potentially catastrophic' storm that has already killed at least two people in the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
This view shows the rain from the passage of the Hurricane Maria from Roberto Clemente Coliseum where residents have sought shelter in San Juan, Puerto Rico, early on September 20, 2017. Hurricane Maria closed in on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on September 20 as forecasters warned of a 'potentially catastrophic' storm that has already killed at least two people in the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents seek shelter inside Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, early on September 20, 2017, as Hurricane Maria passes the island. Hurricane Maria closed in on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on September 20 as forecasters warned of a 'potentially catastrophic' storm that has already killed at least two people in the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view of Aguirre thermoelectric plant during the rain before the arrival of the Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Residents seek shelter inside Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, early on September 20, 2017, as Hurricane Maria passes the island. Hurricane Maria closed in on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on September 20 as forecasters warned of a 'potentially catastrophic' storm that has already killed at least two people in the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
The top of a church is seen through branches as Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico in Fajardo, on September 20, 2017. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of 'large and destructive waves' as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico in Fajardo on September 20, 2017. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of 'large and destructive waves' as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
A man looks as trees are toppled in a parking lot at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 20, 2017, during the passage of the Hurricane Maria. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of 'large and destructive waves' as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Trees are toppled in a parking lot at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 20, 2017, during the passage of the Hurricane Maria. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of 'large and destructive waves' as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico in Fajardo. on September 20, 2017. Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Center warned of 'large and destructive waves' as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) - Hurricane Maria, the second maximum-strength storm to hit the Caribbean this month, battered the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix on Wednesday and headed toward Puerto Rico, set to be the strongest storm to hit the island in about 90 years.

Maria, packing catastrophic winds and dangerous storm surges, earlier killed at least one person in France’s Guadeloupe and devastated the tiny island nation of Dominica.

The storm came just days after the region was punched by Hurricane Irma, which ranked as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record and left a trail of destruction on several Caribbean islands.

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Hurricane Maria rocks the Caribbean
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Hurricane Maria rocks the Caribbean
Boats remain anchored in a wharf as Hurricane Maria approaches in Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A woman covers herself with a raincoat while looking out at the ocean as Hurricane Maria approaches in Petit-Bourg, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A car passes next to a banner warning of a "Red Alert" for rains as Hurricane Maria approaches in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A car drives along an empty street as Hurricane Maria approaches in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A woman crosses a street as Hurricane Maria approaches in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
People sit on the side of an empty street as Hurricane Maria approaches in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man walks in a square as Hurricane Maria approaches in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A woman takes a selfie as Hurricane Maria approaches in Petit-Bourg, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A handler works in one of the USS Kearsarge's control rooms near a live schematic of the flight deck as the vessel handles some of the evacuation of U.S. military personnel from the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria, in the Caribbean Sea near the islands September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Soldiers from the 602nd Area Support Medical Company wait on a beach for a Navy landing craft as their unit evacuates in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey takes off from the USS Kearsarge aircraft carrier as U.S. military continues to evacuate personnel from the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria, in the Caribbean Sea near the islands September 17, 2017. Picture taken on September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
The Army's 602nd Area Support Medical Company boards the U.S.S. Kearsarge aircraft carrier from a Navy landing craft during their evacuation from the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria September 17, 2017. Picture taken September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Soldiers from the 602nd Area Support Medical Company and other Army personnel board a Navy landing craft during their evacuation in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. Picture taken September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
U.S. Army soldiers board a Navy landing craft during their evacuation in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. Picture taken September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Soldiers from the 602nd Area Support Medical Company wait on a beach for a Navy landing craft as their unit evacuates in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
The deck of a U.S. Navy landing craft is crowded with Army soldiers and their belongings as they are evacuated in advance of Hurricane Maria, off St. Thomas shore, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. Picture taken September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Crewmen direct a Navy MH-60S Sea Hawk departing the USS Kearsarge as U.S. military continues to evacuate from the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria, in the Caribbean Sea near the islands September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Army Specialist Cerelai Spencer of Spring Lake, North Carolina, carries the 602nd Area Support Medical Company flag out of the surf after placing it there for a company, during some down time as they await transport on a Navy landing craft during their evacuation in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. Picture taken September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
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Maria, a rare Category 5 storm at the top end of the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, was packing maximum sustained winds near 160 mph (260 kph) and was 60 miles (100 kms) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, as of 4 a.m. EDT (0800 GMT), the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Maria passed west of St. Croix, home to about half of the U.S. Virgin Island’s 103,000 residents, early on Wednesday and its outer eyewall lashed the island with sustained winds of about 90 mph (145 kph), the NHC said.

The center has a hurricane warning out for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques, and the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata.

Many U.S. Virgin Islands residents fled to shelters around midday Tuesday. U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp warned people on the islands that their lives were at risk.

“You lose your life the moment you start thinking about how to save a few bucks to stop something from crashing or burning or falling apart,” he said. “The only thing that matters is the safety of your family, and your children, and yourself. The rest of the stuff, forget it.”

Authorities expect to start assessing storm damage on St. Croix from daybreak.

Maria will cross Puerto Rico later on Wednesday and pass just north of the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night and Thursday, the NHC said.

It was too early to know if Maria will threaten the continental United States as it moves northward in the Atlantic.

Earlier this month, Irma devastated several small islands, including Barbuda and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands,

and caused heavy damage in Cuba and Florida, killing at least 84 people in the Caribbean and the U.S. mainland.

DIRECT HIT

Maria was set to be the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since 1928, probably a Category 4 or 5 when it makes landfall, the NHC said. A slow weakening is expected after the hurricane emerges over the Atlantic north of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, it added.

In Puerto Rico, Maria is expected to dump as much as 25 inches (63.5 cm) of rain on parts of the island and bring storm surges, when hurricanes push ocean water dangerously over normal levels, of up to 9 feet (2.74 m), the NHC said.

The heavy rainfall could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, it added.

“We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history,” Ricardo Rossello, governor of Puerto Rico said in a televised message on Tuesday.

“Although it looks like a direct hit with major damage to Puerto Rico is inevitable, I ask for America’s prayers,” he said, adding the government has set up 500 shelters.

Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory of about 3.4 million people, avoided a direct hit from Irma, but the storm knocked out power for 70 percent of the island, and killed at least three people. Maria promises to be worse.

“This is going to be catastrophic for our island,” said Grisele Cruz, who was staying at a shelter in the southeastern city of Guayama. “We’re going to be without services for a long time.”

Puerto Rico is grappling with the largest municipal debt crisis in U.S. history, with both its government and the public utility having filed for bankruptcy protection amid fights with creditors.

More than 150 flights were canceled at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, the main international airport in Puerto Rico, on Wednesday morning, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.

‘MIND BOGGLING’

The storm plowed into Dominica, a mountainous country of 72,000 people, late on Monday causing what Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit called “mind-boggling” destruction.

“The winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with,” Skerrit said on Facebook, noting that his own residence had been hit, too. He said he was now focused on rescuing people who might be trapped and getting medical help for the injured.

North of Dominica, the French island territory of Guadeloupe appeared to have been hit hard. The Guadeloupe prefecture said one person was killed by a falling tree and at least two people were missing in a shipwreck.

36 PHOTOS
Hurricane Maria
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Hurricane Maria
A military member checks food rations before being transported away, in preparation for Hurricane Maria in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 19: A dog roams the streets of the La Perla neighborhood in Old San Juan as residents prepare for a direct hit from Hurricane Maria on September 19, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello is saying Maria could be the 'most catastrophic hurricane to hit' the U.S. territory in a century. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
A man clears debris from a street in Saint-Pierre, on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, after it was hit by Hurricane Maria, on September 19, 2017. Martinique suffered power outages but avoided major damage. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel CHAMOISEAU (Photo credit should read LIONEL CHAMOISEAU/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 19: An unidentified women stares to the sea in front the iconic El Morro Fortress in Old San Juan. San Juan September 19, 2017. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 19: A woman sits in a couch at Roberto Clemente Coliseum, the biggest shelter in the island. Hurricane Irma is been expected over this night and tomorrows early morning. San Juan September 19, 2017. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
A picture shows the ocean on September 18, 2017, in Basse-Terre, on the Fench Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, as Hurricane Maria approaches the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria strengthened rapidly on September 18 as it blasted towards the eastern Caribbean, forcing exhausted islanders -- still recovering from megastorm Irma -- to brace for the worst again. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the 'major hurricane' had intensified to Category 3 as it approached the French island of Guadeloupe, the base for relief operations for several islands devastated by Irma this month. / AFP PHOTO / Cedrick Isham CALVADOS (Photo credit should read CEDRICK ISHAM CALVADOS/AFP/Getty Images)
A man points at a screen monitoring the weather and the progression of Hurricane Maria onboard the French marine frigate Germinal which arrived at the port of Galisbay, on the French Caribbean island of Saint Martin, to deliver bottled water on September 18, 2017, after the passage of Hurricane Irma. Almost two weeks after Hurricane Irma slammed into St Martin, killing 15 people, the French-Dutch Caribbean island has begun to take small steps toward reconstruction. Out on the roads, soldiers and volunteers work side by side to clear debris clogging the streets, stocking branches, metal sheets and other rubble in long piles along the embankment. / AFP PHOTO / Helene Valenzuela (Photo credit should read HELENE VALENZUELA/AFP/Getty Images)
Hurricane Maria is shown in the Atlantic Ocean about 85 miles east of Martinique in this September 17, 2017 NASA handout satellite photo. NASA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Soldiers from the 602nd Area Support Medical Company wait on a beach for a Navy landing craft as their unit evacuates in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A line of customers waits for the arrival of generators at a power sports store as Hurricane Maria approaches in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 18, 2017. Hurricane Maria has grown into a maximum-strength Category Five storm, US forecasters said Monday, as it was bearing down on the Caribbean island of Dominica. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Army soldiers from the 602nd Area Support Medical Company gather on a beach as they await transport on a Navy landing craft while evacuating in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
People board up windows of a business in preparation for the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 18, 2017. Hurricane Maria has grown into a maximum-strength Category Five storm, US forecasters said Monday, as it was bearing down on the Caribbean island of Dominica. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Soldiers from the 602nd Area Support Medical Company wait on a beach for a Navy landing craft as their unit evacuates in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A woman covers herself with a raincoat while looking out at the ocean as Hurricane Maria approaches in Petit-Bourg, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
The Army's 602nd Area Support Medical Company boards the U.S.S. Kearsarge aircraft carrier from a Navy landing craft during their evacuation from the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria September 17, 2017. Picture taken September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A soldier from the Army's 602nd Area Support Medical Company rests on vegetation damaged by Hurricane Irma as his unit waits for transport on a Navy landing craft while evacuating in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. Picture taken September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey takes off from the USS Kearsarge aircraft carrier as U.S. military continues to evacuate personnel from the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria, in the Caribbean Sea near the islands September 17, 2017. Picture taken on September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
People look at the ocean on September 18, 2017, in Basse-Terre, on the Fench Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, as Hurricane Maria approaches the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria strengthened rapidly on September 18 as it blasted towards the eastern Caribbean, forcing exhausted islanders -- still recovering from megastorm Irma -- to brace for the worst again. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the 'major hurricane' had intensified to Category 3 as it approached the French island of Guadeloupe, the base for relief operations for several islands devastated by Irma this month. / AFP PHOTO / Cedrick Isham CALVADOS (Photo credit should read CEDRICK ISHAM CALVADOS/AFP/Getty Images)
Flight deck crew aboard the USS Kearsarge aircraft carrier brace themselves from the propeller wash of a departing MV-22B Osprey in the service of the Marine Corps as U.S. military continues to evacuate from the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria, in the Caribbean Sea near the islands September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Soldiers from the 602nd Area Support Medical Company evacuate their unit from Schneider Regional Medical Center in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
People sit on the side of an empty street as Hurricane Maria approaches in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man and a boy nail a board over a window on September 18, 2017, in Trois-Rivieres, on the Fench Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, as Hurricane Maria approaches the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria strengthened rapidly on September 18 as it blasted towards the eastern Caribbean, forcing exhausted islanders -- still recovering from megastorm Irma -- to brace for the worst again. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the 'major hurricane' had intensified to Category 3 as it approached the French island of Guadeloupe, the base for relief operations for several islands devastated by Irma this month. / AFP PHOTO / Cedrick Isham CALVADOS (Photo credit should read CEDRICK ISHAM CALVADOS/AFP/Getty Images)
People look at the ocean on September 18, 2017, in Basse-Terre, on the Fench Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, as Hurricane Maria approaches the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria strengthened rapidly on September 18 as it blasted towards the eastern Caribbean, forcing exhausted islanders -- still recovering from megastorm Irma -- to brace for the worst again. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the 'major hurricane' had intensified to Category 3 as it approached the French island of Guadeloupe, the base for relief operations for several islands devastated by Irma this month. / AFP PHOTO / Cedrick Isham CALVADOS (Photo credit should read CEDRICK ISHAM CALVADOS/AFP/Getty Images)
Motorists fill their cars at a petrol station on September 18, 2017, on the Fench Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, as Hurricane Maria approaches the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria strengthened rapidly on September 18 as it blasted towards the eastern Caribbean, forcing exhausted islanders -- still recovering from megastorm Irma -- to brace for the worst again. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the 'major hurricane' had intensified to Category 3 as it approached the French island of Guadeloupe, the base for relief operations for several islands devastated by Irma this month. / AFP PHOTO / Cedrick Isham CALVADOS (Photo credit should read CEDRICK ISHAM CALVADOS/AFP/Getty Images)
People buy provisions on September 18, 2017, in Petit-Bourg, on the Fench Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, as Hurricane Maria approaches the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria strengthened rapidly on September 18 as it blasted towards the eastern Caribbean, forcing exhausted islanders -- still recovering from megastorm Irma -- to brace for the worst again. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the 'major hurricane' had intensified to Category 3 as it approached the French island of Guadeloupe, the base for relief operations for several islands devastated by Irma this month. / AFP PHOTO / Cedrick Isham CALVADOS (Photo credit should read CEDRICK ISHAM CALVADOS/AFP/Getty Images)
A boy sits on a beach alone before the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 18, 2017. Hurricane Maria has grown into a maximum-strength Category Five storm, US forecasters said Monday, as it was bearing down on the Caribbean island of Dominica. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
A couple walks past a shop covered up with woodboard for protection before the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 18, 2017. Hurricane Maria has grown into a maximum-strength Category Five storm, US forecasters said Monday, as it was bearing down on the Caribbean island of Dominica. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
People board up windows of a business in preparation for the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 18, 2017. Hurricane Maria has grown into a maximum-strength Category Five storm, US forecasters said Monday, as it was bearing down on the Caribbean island of Dominica. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows the Jerome Beaupere school on September 18, 2017, in Sandy Ground on the French Caribbean island of Saint-Martin, after it was hit by Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Maria barrelled towards the storm-battered eastern Caribbean and was expected to strengthen on September 18 as it churned along a path similar to that of megastorm Irma earlier in the month. The new storm, which the US National Hurricane Center warned could become a 'major hurricane', threatens the French territory of Guadeloupe, which was the staging area for relief operations for several islands hit by Irma. / AFP PHOTO / Helene Valenzuela (Photo credit should read HELENE VALENZUELA/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Guadeloupe Adapted Military Service Regiment gather detritus on September 18, 2017, as they clean Sandy Ground on the French Caribbean island of Saint-Martin, after it was hit by Hurricane Irma, and in order to limit the risk of flooding and projectiles as Hurricane Maria approaches the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria barrelled towards the storm-battered eastern Caribbean and was expected to strengthen on September 18 as it churned along a path similar to that of megastorm Irma earlier in the month. The new storm, which the US National Hurricane Center warned could become a 'major hurricane', threatens the French territory of Guadeloupe, which was the staging area for relief operations for several islands hit by Irma. / AFP PHOTO / Helene Valenzuela (Photo credit should read HELENE VALENZUELA/AFP/Getty Images)
A car drives along an empty street as Hurricane Maria approaches in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man and a girl look at the ocean on September 18, 2017, in Basse-Terre, on the Fench Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, as Hurricane Maria approaches the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria strengthened rapidly on September 18 as it blasted towards the eastern Caribbean, forcing exhausted islanders -- still recovering from megastorm Irma -- to brace for the worst again. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the 'major hurricane' had intensified to Category 3 as it approached the French island of Guadeloupe, the base for relief operations for several islands devastated by Irma this month. / AFP PHOTO / Cedrick Isham CALVADOS (Photo credit should read CEDRICK ISHAM CALVADOS/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on September 19, 2017 shows the powerful winds and rains of hurricane Maria battering the city of Petit-Bourg on the French overseas Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Hurricane Maria strengthened into a 'potentially catastrophic' Category Five storm as it barrelled into eastern Caribbean islands still reeling from Irma, forcing residents to evacuate in powerful winds and lashing rain. / AFP PHOTO / Cedrik-Isham Calvados / (Photo credit should read CEDRIK-ISHAM CALVADOS/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on September 19, 2017 shows the powerful winds and rains of hurricane Maria battering the city of Petit-Bourg on the French overseas Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Hurricane Maria strengthened into a 'potentially catastrophic' Category Five storm as it barrelled into eastern Caribbean islands still reeling from Irma, forcing residents to evacuate in powerful winds and lashing rain. / AFP PHOTO / Cedrik-Isham Calvados (Photo credit should read CEDRIK-ISHAM CALVADOS/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on September 19, 2017 shows the powerful winds and rains of hurricane Maria battering the city of Petit-Bourg on the French overseas Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Hurricane Maria strengthened into a 'potentially catastrophic' Category Five storm as it barrelled into eastern Caribbean islands still reeling from Irma, forcing residents to evacuate in powerful winds and lashing rain. / AFP PHOTO / Cedrik-Isham Calvados (Photo credit should read CEDRIK-ISHAM CALVADOS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Some roofs had been ripped off, roads were blocked by fallen trees, 80,000 households were without power and there was flooding in some southern coastal areas, the prefecture said in Twitter posts.

Video footage released by the prefecture showed tree-bending winds whipping ferociously through deserted streets and shaking lamp posts when the storm first hit.

Additional reporting by Dave Graham in San Juan, Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City, Richard Lough in Paris, Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam, Robert Edison Sandiford in Bridgetown, Barbados; Writing by Jon Herskovitz, Frances Kerry and Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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