A UK holidaymaker in the Caribbean islands has tweeted of the “apocalyptic” power and noise of Hurricane Irma as he hid in a concrete stairwell.
Around 4.30am local time in Saint Martin, Alex Woolfall wrote on social media that he was scared due to the winds that were raging up to 185mph.
“Evacuated & everyone now hiding in concrete stairwell of building. Noise of wind insane. Pray this will end soon!” he wrote.
“May be my last tweet as power out and noise now apocalyptic. This is like a movie I never want to see,” he said later that morning.
The eye of Hurricane Irma, the strongest Category 5 storm in a decade, passed over Barbuda around 1.47am, ripping off the roof of the police station.
It then moved on to the French islands of Saint Barthelemy and Saint Martin where sturdy buildings were destroyed and power lines torn down, including the weather station.
Irma is so strong that it appeared on seismometers, which normally measure earthquakes. Officials predicated at least 10 inches of rain, waves of up to 23 feet, flash floods, mud slides and winds of up to 185 mph.
US President Donald Trump declared emergencies in Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, while six southern islands in the Bahamas said they would evacuate.
Hurricane Irma – in pictures
British Airways sent an empty plane to bring customers back before the storm hit. The plane returned safely to the UK with 326 passengers.
Officials warned people to seek protection from Irma’s “onslaught” in a statement that closed with: “May God protect us all.”
Hurricane Irma follows shortly after Hurricane Harvey destroyed swathes of south east Texas, dumping heavy rain and resulting in the deaths of more than 60 people.
Hurricane Matthew last year also ripped through the Caribbean, killing over 600 people and causing a humanitarian disaster in Haiti.
The exact path of Hurricane Irma is uncertain as it churns along a path towards Puerto Rico but it may hit Florida before the weekend.