Winds of up to 185mph (297kph) have hit Barbuda as Hurricane Irma passed directly over the Caribbean island. The most powerful storm ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean is “potentially catastrophic” according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The Category 5 storm passed over Barbuda in the early hours of Wednesday, bringing with it strong winds and heavy rain. Fewer than 2,000 people live on the small island, which is without power and phone lines since Irma hit.
The neighboring island of Antigua was also hit by strong winds and heavy rain, with debris reported to be flying in the air as residents took shelter in homes and designated government buildings.
Anguilla, and St Kitts and Nevis are next in the path of Irma, with the British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas also due to be hit by the storm. A mandatory evacuation will take place in the southern Bahamas on Wednesday.
Speaking to the Nassau Guardian, Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis described Irma as a “monster” and said anyone who did not evacuate was “foolish.”
The prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Timothy Harris, issued a statement on Wednesday ordering citizens to remain indoors and continue to listen to all official advisories on the hurricane.