'Extremely dangerous' Hurricane Maria heads to Puerto Rico

RFA Mounts Bay Grand Turk island

In Martinique, authorities ordered people to remain indoors and said they should prepare for cuts to power and water.

"We lost everything we could buy with money", wrote the state leader on his official Facebook page.

"We are planning for the unexpected, we are planning for the worst", said Chris Austin, head of a United Kingdom military task force set up to deal with Irma, as the British Virgin Islands readied for a new onslaught.

Hurricane Maria hit the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica on September 19 with devastating damage as winds and rain from the storm also hit areas just crippled by Irma.

The National Hurricane Center warned in a statement, "Hurricane conditions should continue over Dominica during the next few hours". The last major hurricane to strike Puerto Rico directly was Georges, which made landfall there as a Category 3 storm in 1998, he said.

Brigadier John Ridge, second in command of the Joint Task Force of troops helping the islanders to recover, said: It kind of does not matter which way the hurricane goes, it is bad.

Maria could hit Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Tuesday night and Wednesday. The forecast track takes Maria directly over the USA island, which if intensity forecasts prove correct could result in considerable insurance losses, with a chance of impact for reinsurance capital as insurers tend to leverage more risk transfer in the Caribbean region.

People look out at the ocean as Hurricane Maria approaches Guadeloupe Island on Monday, September 18.

However, meteorologists are anxious the hurricane might increase its power again as its heading towards Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

More than 100 high-risk prisoners escaped on the islands after a prison breach during Hurricane Irma, prompting London to send Royal Marines and police officers to help restore law and order.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles from the center of hurricane Maria and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles.

Authorities in the US territory of Puerto Rico warned that people in wooden or flimsy homes should find safe shelter before the storm's expected arrival there on Wednesday. A police official on the island, Inspector Pellam Jno Baptiste, said late Monday night that there were no immediate reports of casualties but it was too risky for officers to do a full assessment as the storm raged outside.

"This is going to impact all of Puerto Rico with a force and violence that we haven't seen for several generations", he said.

"You have to evacuate". Sustained winds were up to 160 miles per hour as the storm moved west-northwest at 9 miles per hour.

To the north, Hurricane Jose stirred up risky surf and rip currents along the U.S. East Coast, though forecasters said the storm was unlikely to make landfall.

About 450 shelters will be open Tuesday, he said. "Otherwise, they will die", Public Safety Commissioner Hector Pesquera said at a news conference.

The territory's two other main islands, St. Thomas and St. John, which lie to the north of St. Croix, sustained widespread heavy damage from Irma, which killed more than 80 people in the Caribbean and the U.S. mainland. "I don't know how to make this any clearer".

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