'Extremely dangerous' Maria moves toward VI, Puerto Rico as Cat 5 storm

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According to the Prime Minister of the Caribbean Island of Dominica where the people have faced the worst of the storm's wrath, the island has been "brutalised and devastated" by the onslaught of Hurricane Maria.

After crossing St. Croix, Maria will head toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Tuesday night and Wednesday as "an extremely risky Category 4 or 5 hurricane", the National Hurricane Center said.

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit made a series of dire Facebook posts as the storm hit the island, calling the winds "merciless" and saying his residence sustained damages. "I don't think there were very many roofs which would survive the hurricane".

He appealed for "help of all kinds" but noted specifically that helicopters will be needed so that authorities can survey the damage. This means the ports are now closed for regular shipping including cruise ships.

"On the forecast track, the eye of Maria will move over the northeastern Caribbean Sea today and approach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico tonight and Wednesday", the NHC said.

"Maria" is said to be moving along nearly the same path as Hurricane Irma which devastated parts of Florida earlier this month.

Skerrit also took to Facebook as the frightening storm was hitting the island.

The NHC warned Maria would "remain extremely dangerous" as it passed over the British and USA territories.

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Most models early Tuesday showed the storm turning north and away from the East Coast, but it was still too early to rule out a direct hit on the US mainland.

Heavy rain lashed the island and several areas were without power.

Dominica, a heavily forested former British colony home to 72,000 people, lies in the eastern Caribbean about halfway between the French islands of Guadeloupe, to the north, and Martinique, to the south. It remained a serious threat to many islands in the Atlantic.

Hurricane Maria's threat to SC remained unknown Tuesday morning after the major storm passed over Dominica Monday night.

A hurricane warning remained in effect as of the time of the update for Guadeloupe, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat, in addition to Dominica, Puerto Rico, and the us and British Virgin Islands. "We're doing the same thing now in advance of Maria", Scott said.

On the island of St Martin, which is split between France and the Netherlands, authorities announced a red alert ahead of Maria's arrival.

If Maria retains its strength, it would be the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years, since a Category 4 storm swept the United States island territory in 1932, Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

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