Washington, Sept 19: The “potentially catastrophic” hurricane Maria, the strongest storm on record to make landfall in Dominica, has devastated the Caribbean island, the country’s Prime Minister said on Tuesday.
The powerful storm, which made landfall at 9:15 pm on Monday, has since been downgraded from a Category 5 to a 4 storm with sustained winds of 155 mph, reports CNN.
After it passes over Dominica, it is on course to score a direct hit on the US territory of Puerto Rico, the first hurricane of its strength to do so in 85 years.
“We’re just waiting for daybreak to do an assessment of the damage,” Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told CNN on Tuesday morning.
“Our first order of business will be search and rescue to ensure we can account for every single citizen and residents who were on the island during this really devastating hurricane.”
A statement from the Washington-based tiol Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that its record-topping winds reached 160 miles per hour when it hit the island tion.
In an update, the Centre said that reports “indicate significant damage to structures has occurred in Dominica”.
Maria was so powerful that it tore the roof off the Prime Minister’s residence. “Persolly I was affected,” Skerrit told CNN.
“The roof of the residence caved in because of the strength of the wind. But I was taken to safe ground by police officers, thank God... I don’t think there were very many roofs which would survive the hurricane.”
After Dominica, Maria will move towards Puerto Rico as an “extremely dangerous major hurricane, and a warning has been issued”, CNN quoted the NHC as saying.
Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello has declared a state of emergency ahead of the landfall expected on Wednesday.
US President Dold Trump has issued an emergency declaration for the American territory for federal assistance to augment the island tion’s storm-response initiatives.
The storm will also affect parts of the Leeward Islands and the British and US Virgin Islands for next couple of days. (IANS)