'Widespread devastation' as Maria lashes Dominica

PM Roosevelt Skerrit says Dominica has 'lost all what money can buy' after Hurricane Maria ravages Caribbean island.

    Dominica's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says his Caribbean island nation has suffered "widespread devastation" after Hurricane Maria.

    "So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace," he said as the storm churned and plowed through the tiny island on Tuesday. 

    Maria made landfall on Dominica as a Category 5 storm at around 01:15 GMT with top winds swirling at 257km/h, according to the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC). 

    It was later downgraded to a Category 4 storm, but remained an "extremely dangerous hurricane", the Miami-based centre said. 

    Skerrit, who had to be rescued after winds tore off the roof to his official residence, said he feared serious injuries and even deaths on the island, home to about 72,000 people. 

    The winds have "swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with", Skerrit said. "My focus now is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured."

    The island's airport and ports have been closed, and the local water company shut down its systems to protect its intake valves from debris churned up by the storm.

    Maria is the fourth major Atlantic hurricane of the year and the NHC say it is following a similar path as that of Irma, a mega storm that broke weather records and killed dozens of people in the Caribbean and the United States state of Florida.

    "We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds," Skerrit told Al Jazeera.

    Earlier in the day, he said his house was flooding and he was "at the complete mercy of the hurricane".  

    "Rough! Rough! Rough!" he wrote on his official page. 

    Hurricane warnings have also been triggered for St Kitts, Nevis, the British island of Montserrat, Culebra, Vieques and France's Martinique.

    READ MORE: Hurricane Maria barrels towards islands hit by Irma

    The NHC said Maria is expected to whip up "dangerous" storm surges, destructive waves, flash floods and mudslides.

    While the intensity of the hurricane may fluctuate over the next day or two, Maria is expected to remain a Category 4 or 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, it said.

    The storm was on track to move over the northeastern Caribbean Sea and, by Tuesday night or early on Wednesday, approach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where millions are still reeling from Hurricane Irma.

    Another hurricane, Jose, is also active in the Atlantic and has triggered tropical storm warnings for the northeastern United States.

    Many scientists are convinced that megastorms such as Irma, and Harvey before it, are intensified by the greater energy they can draw from oceans that are warming as a result of climate change.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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