Hurricane Irma: Caribbean islands left with trail of destruction

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Hurricane Irma: Caribbean islands left with trail of destruction

Authors: TheIndianSubcontinent News Agency

Hurricane Irma: Caribbean islands left with trail of destruction

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Media captionThe north coast of Cuba was battered with winds of up to 250 kilometres an hour

Hurricane Irma has caused catastrophic damage in several Caribbean islands, killing at least 27 people and leaving thousands homeless.

Irma - one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic basin - swept across islands including St Martin, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the British and US Virgin Islands.

It has caused more than $10bn (£7.6bn) in damage, disaster risk experts say.

The hurricane has now reached the US state of Florida.

Antigua and Barbuda

Hurricane Irma first struck the dual-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda on Wednesday. A young child was killed.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne said 95% of buildings on Barbuda had been damaged, and the island was "literally under water" and "barely habitable".

Hurricane Irma: Caribbean islands left with trail of destruction

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Media caption95% of Barbuda's buildings were destroyed

About 50% of the Barbuda population was now homeless, he told the BBC.

However, Antigua, with a population of 80,000, escaped major damage, with no loss of life.

Hurricane Irma: Caribbean islands left with trail of destruction

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Media caption"It was like a horror movie" - Residents of Barbuda describe the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma

St Martin, St Barts and Anguilla

The category five storm then pummelled St Martin and Saint Barthélemy - popular holiday destinations.

The hurricane left 60% of homes of St Martin, an island shared between France and the Netherlands, uninhabitable, with no electricity, gas or drinking water.

Hurricane Irma: Caribbean islands left with trail of destruction

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Media captionBefore and after: Stills and footage show St Martin then and now

Seven deaths were confirmed on the French part of the island, while four died in the Dutch area.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said there had been "massive destruction" to the islands.

The nearby British Overseas Territory of Anguilla also had extensive damage, with one person killed.

British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands

Hurricane Irma: Caribbean islands left with trail of destruction

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Media captionAerial footage shows the devastation that Hurricane Irma has caused.

There was widespread damage reported on both island chains, with five dead in the British Virgin Islands and four killed in the US Virgin Islands.

Sharon Flax-Brutus, director of tourism for the British Virgin Islands (BVI), said the damage was difficult to assess because communications were down, but that "many homes are without roofs, or have been diminished to merely foundations".

Hurricane Irma: Caribbean islands left with trail of destruction

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Media caption"The wind was like nothing I've ever known in my life"

Following the storm, some residents described looting and said people were walking around with machetes to cut trees down.

Puerto Rico

Hurricane Irma skirted Puerto Rico late on Wednesday, causing waves of up to 30ft (9m) off the capital San Juan.

Although the US territory avoided a direct hit, its infrastructure was badly affected - more than half of the island's three million residents were without power and officials said many could be cut off for several days.

At least three deaths were reported on the island.

Haiti and the Dominican Republic

Both countries were battered by the storm and experienced flooding, but neither had as much damage as initially feared.

Irma caused power outages and some damage to roofs and farms in the northern parts of the countries.

In the Dominican Republic, about 20,000 people were evacuated ahead of the storm.

Hurricane Irma: Caribbean islands left with trail of destruction

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Media captionNasa images on Thursday show the eye of Irma over the Dominican Republic and Haiti

Turks and Caicos Islands

On the archipelago of Turks and Caicos, with its population of about 35,000, one witness described a drop in pressure that could be felt in people's chests.

Irma ripped off roofs on the main island, Grand Turk, flooded streets, snapped utility poles and caused a widespread black-out.

Cuba

Irma made landfall on Cuba late on Friday - the first category five hurricane to hit the country in decades.

About a million people, including tens of thousands of tourists, were evacuated ahead of the storm.

The hurricane battered the north of the island for several hours, with storm surges partially engulfing villages and whole communities left homeless.

Trees and telegraph poles collapsed, and there were power outages across Havana.

However, no deaths or injuries have been reported so far.

Hurricane Irma: Caribbean islands left with trail of destruction

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Media captionWatch: Footage shows the central province of Villa Clara battered by wind and rain