At least 8 people have been killed and 23 more injured by Hurricane Irma after it hit French Caribbean island territories.
According to French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, the death toll in St. Martin and St. Barthelemy could be higher because rescue teams have yet to finish inspecting the islands.
“The reconnaissance will really start at daybreak,” Collomb said.
It left most of Puerto Rico without power, and headed early Thursday toward the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Nearly every building on Barbuda was damaged when the hurricane’s core crossed almost directly over the island early Wednesday and about 60% of its roughly 1,400 residents were left homeless, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne told the Associated Press.
“It is just really a horrendous situation,” Browne said after returning to Antigua from a plane trip to the neighboring island.
The storm is expected to hit Florida sometime Sunday, and Gov. Rick Scott said he planned to activate 7,000 National Guard soldiers by Friday. He warned that Irma is “bigger, faster and stronger” than Hurricane Andrew, which wiped out entire neighborhoods in south Florida 25 years ago.
Gov. Scott also added to people living in Florida to evacuate if asked to. “(A) storm surge could cover your house. We can rebuild homes — we cannot rebuild your family,” he said.
Irma has maintained intensity above 180 mph longer than any storm in Atlantic basin history.