Nine Dead as Hurricane Maria Reaches Puerto Rico

A major hurricane has struck the US territory of Puerto Rico, becoming the second to hit the Caribbean this month.

Hurricane Maria has flooded streets, damaged buildings and brought down telecommunication towers and power lines, leaving at least nine people dead in its wake across the region.

Maria blew ashore in the morning in the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa as a Category four storm, with winds reaching 250km per hour.

It was expected to reach Puerto Rico with strong winds for 12 to 24 hours.

Rivers burst their banks and winds downed trees and damaged homes and buildings according to local news media.

El Nuevo Dia newspaper reported electricity went out across the island on Wednesday.

“Maria is threatening to bring 750mm of rain to some parts of the mountainous island, so there is high risk of flash floods and landslides,” Al Jazeera’s meteorologist Steff Gaulter said.

“It’s expected to weaken as it crosses Puerto Rico, but then strengthen again as it moves over the sea once more.”

“It’s going to get very close to Hispanola, Turks and Caicos and Bahamas. A slight wobble and any of these could get a direct hit.”

Maria killed at least seven people on the island of Dominica, government officials said and two people were also killed in the French territory of Guadaloupe.

It has also caused widespread damage on St Croix in the US Virgin Islands.

It comes as Hurricane Irma left a trail of destruction in several Caribbean islands and the Florida this month.

It killed at least 84 people in the Caribbean and the US mainland.

Irma is ranked as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record.

The National Weather Service said Maria was set to be the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since 1928.

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