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  1. ITV Report

Hurricane Maria: Caribbean braced for more destruction

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner

The already devastated Caribbean islands are bracing themselves for yet more destruction as Hurricane Maria hits.

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the Category 5 storm has already unleashed winds of 175mph battering the island of Dominica overnight.

The nation's prime minister declared they had lost "all (that) money can buy" after his own dramatic rescue.

Roosevelt Skerrit was saved as Maria tore off the roof of his house as it flooded.

He described his desperate plight in a series of Facebook posts:

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Dominica lost nearly all its communications as Maria knocked out phone lines and the island's broadcast service, and 70% of properties lost their roofs according to reports.

Maria has already claimed one life, as officials on the French island of Guadeloupe confirmed a person was killed by a falling tree.

And another two people are missing after their boat sank.

The National Hurricane centre said Maria is "potentially catastrophic".

"Maria is forecast to remain an extremely dangerous category four or five hurricane until it moves near or over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico," a spokesman said.

Relief workers are racing to secure debris left strewn across the islands after Irma, as loose items have the potential to make the coming hurricane "more hazardous" if it is picked up by high winds.

  • Which British overseas territories are threatened?
Buildings are boarded in Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Credit: AP

The British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are at risk of being hit by a dangerous storm surge with destructive waves raising the water level up to 9ft (2.7m).

Up to 15 inches of rain is predicted to fall as Maria barrels across the Caribbean, with "isolated maximum amounts of 20in (51cm)" expected to deluge the British Virgin Islands. In Anguilla up to 8in (20cm) could be recorded.

The NHC has warned that "rainfall on these islands could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides".

Warnings of surges which may be nine feet higher than normal tide levels have also been issued.

Hurricane warnings have also been issued for Guadeloupe, St Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico - where a state of emergency has been declared.

Around 25,000 households on the island of Martinique are without electricity and two small towns without water after Maria roared past.

  • What is the FCO travel advice?
This satellite image showed Maria on its approach to Dominica. Credit: AP

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against travelling to the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat.

British officials have also advised against travelling to the overseas territory of Anguilla, where a tropical storm warning is in effect.

  • What is Britain doing in response to the hurricane?
The British Virgin Islands, devastated by Irma, is threatened once again. Credit: AP

More than 1,300 UK troops are currently deployed in the region, and were sent to help with relief and repair work after Hurricane Irma.

An additional 42-strong military resilience team has also been deployed to the British Virgin Islands ready to offer support and assistance after Maria has hit.

HMS Ocean, which is carrying another 60 tonnes of aid to compliment the 75 tonnes of Department for International Development relief items which has already arrived, will drop anchor in the region this weekend.

Brigadier John Ridge, the second in command of the Joint Task Force, said the British Virgin Islands has "already been weakened" and that the situation "doesn't look good".

"It kind of does not matter which way the hurricane goes, it is bad. They are either going to get the wind, which will pick up all the debris that is lying around," he said.