Extreme Category 5 Hurricane Irma crashes into Caribbean
- Hurricane Irma has caused widespread destruction across the Caribbean, reducing islands to rubble and leaving at least seven people dead.
The small island of Barbuda is said to be "barely habitable" while officials warn that the French territory of St Martin is almost destroyed.
With the scale of the damage still emerging the death toll is likely to rise.
Irma, a category five hurricane, the highest possible level, was passing north of the US territory of Puerto Rico, the US National Hurricane Center said.
More than half of the island's three million residents were without power as Irma caused heavy downpours and strong winds. Officials have said that power could be cut off for several days.
The most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade had wind speeds of 295km/h (185mph) and was expected to pass near or just north of the coast of the Dominican Republic on Thursday.
Hurricane Irma first hit the dual-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. At least one death, of a child, was reported on Barbuda, where Prime Minister Gaston Browne said about 95% of the buildings had suffered some damage.
Another storm, Jose, further out in the Atlantic behind Irma, swelled to category one hurricane strength and could be near major hurricane strength on Friday, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
Although its path was not clear, Jose could hit some areas already affected by Irma.
And storm Katia, in the Gulf of Mexico, was also upgraded to hurricane status, and a warning was in effect for the coast of the Mexican state of Veracruz.
Seeing multiple storms developing in the same area of the Atlantic in close succession is not uncommon.
Rarer though is the strength of the hurricanes, with Harvey making landfall in the US as a category four.
There have never been two category four storms making landfall on the US mainland during the same season, since records began.
- source : BBC