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Hurricane Irma batters French overseas territories

Jose Romero, NOAA, RAMMB, AFP | This image obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Irma on September 5, 2017.

Hurricane Irma roared into the Caribbean with record force early Wednesday, its 185mph winds shaking homes and flooding buildings on a chain of small islands including French overseas territories.

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The strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever recorded passed almost directly over the island of Barbuda, causing widespread flooding and downing trees.

France sent emergency food and water rations to the French islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, where Irma ripped off roofs and knocked out all electricity.

Hurricane Irma superimposed on a map of France

The regional authority for Guadeloupe and neighboring islands said the fire station in Saint Barthelemy was flooded by more than 3 feet (1 meter) of water and no rescue vehicles could move. The government headquarters on Saint Martin was partially destroyed.

There were no immediate reports of casualties but the minister for overseas territories, Annick Girardin, said "We have a lot to fear for a certain number of our compatriots who unfortunately didn't want to listen to the protection measures and go to more secure sites ... We're preparing for the worst."

(AP)

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