At least 10 people have been killed by Hurricane Irma as the mighty Category 5 storm continues menacing its way through the Caribbean.
Radar tracking shows the storm passed Puerto Rico on Thursday morning, sending its 185 mph winds to the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Eight people have been killed on France’s Caribbean territories, with another 23 injured, according to French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb.
The death toll could go up in places like St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, but crews haven’t fully assessed the damage.
“The reconnaissance will really start at daybreak,” Collomb told a French radio station.
A 2-year-old child was killed in Barbuda as a family attempted to escape a destroyed home amid the storm, officials said. Another person was killed on the neighboring Antigua, where nearly all roads are considered impassable.
“It is just really a horrendous situation,” Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne told the Associated Press.
About 60% of Barbuda’s 1,400 residents are homeless after the storm flooded practically the whole island, Browne said.
The storm passed just north of Puerto Rico at about 2 a.m., according to reports, sending powerful winds and torrential rain to the U.S. territory.
Puerto Rico’s Electrical Energy Authority reported 950,000 customers without power by 9 p.m. Wednesday night, according to ABC News. And 50,000 are without water, the island’s emergency management agency said.
President Trump has declared a state of emergency for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to aid in the recovery.
Irma was reported 95 miles north of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and is moving at about 17 mph.
The National Hurricane Center expects the storm will teeter between a Category 4 and 5 storm over the next few days — but will remain strong enough to keep pummeling the Caribbean.
Projections indicate the storm will hit some part of Florida by the weekend, where the state has already declared a state of emergency.
Gov. Rick Scott ordered a mandatory evacuation for the Florida Keys as well as coastal Broward and Miami-Dade County. Some 25,000 people were moved out by Wednesday afternoon, Scott said.
Irma is “bigger, faster and stronger” than Hurricane Andrew, which destroyed entire neighborhoods in 1992.
The Town of Palm Beach issued a voluntary evacuation at about 8 p.m. Wednesday in a bid to clear its residents out.
“After consultation with Palm Beach County officials, the Town is strongly urging a voluntary evacuation of the Island in advance of a mandatory order which may come at some point tomorrow,” the town said in a statement.
With News Wire Services