MARIA BECOMES A CATASTROPHIC CATEGORY 5

Hurricane Maria strengthened to an “extremely dangerous” category five hurricane on Monday night as it barreled towards several Caribbean islands.

The storm was moving along roughly the same path as Hurricane Irma, which devastated several islands and parts of Florida earlier this month.

Maria, with winds of up to 160mph, made landfall on the Caribbean island of Dominica late on Monday evening.

Hurricane warnings were issued for the British Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Martinique and St Lucia – all of which are still recovering from Irma.

The US National Hurricane Center said Maria was expected to continue to gain strength for the next 24 hours or longer.

Forecasters said “potentially life-threatening” storm surges could raise water levels by six to nine feet near the storm’s center. The storm was predicted to bring 10 to 15 inches of rain across the islands, with more in isolated areas.

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