WATCH: Irma ‘strongest hurricane in US history’ wreaks havoc in Caribbean

2017-09-06 14:50 - Gabi Zietsman
Post a comment 0
AFP

(AFP)

Cape Town - Hurricane Irma has been dubbed the 'strongest hurricane in US history, as it wreaks havoc on small Caribbean islands causing major flooding.

According to grist's meteorologists, this is the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history, a storm that no one in its path has experienced before, and could change the islands forever.

AP reports that residents of Barbuda had lost their phone lines early Wednesday morning, including having the roof of the police station ripped off, and has made communication between islands difficult.

WATCH: Tourists evacuate as monster Hurricane Irma hits Caribbean with 300km/h winds

According to AFP, Hurricane Irma slammed into the Caribbean islands of Saint Barthelemy and Saint Martin, the French weather office said, adding that it had caused major flooding in low-lying areas.

Coastlines are being "battered extremely violently" by the sea, it said, adding, "These islands are suffering major impacts."

As Irma approached the French-run Saint Barthelemy, a favourite jet-setters' destination also known as St. Barts, the office measured winds of 244 km/h.

But its monitoring equipment has since been destroyed by the hurricane, it said.

Irma's eye, about 50 kilometres in diameter, hovered for about one and a half hours over St. Barts, bringing an eery but deceptive calm, said weatherman Jerome Lecou.

The French government had previously sounded the alarm over thousands of people who had refused to seek shelter on St. Barts as well as Saint Martin, an island divided between France and the Netherlands.

WATCH: Pilot lands plane blind after hail storm smashes windscreen and disables autopilot

Meanwhile the top hurricane warning was lifted in Guadeloupe, to the southeast, authorities there said while still warning of heavy rain and storms and a "dangerous sea".

Irma was headed next for Britain's Anguilla island, the British Virgin Islands and the east end of Puerto Rico, officials said.

Billionaire Richard Branson will be riding out the storm on his private island near the British Virgin Islands, having hunkered down with his team. According to his blog, this will be his third time on the island during a hurricane, but he urges other people on the surrounding islands to head for hurricane shelters before the storm hits.


What to read next on Traveller24

SA Airlink to provide scheduled air services to St Helena from JHB and Cape Town 

Find Your Escape: Island style 

Worst plane disaster averted: Lighting should have alerted pilots of potential disaster