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Hurricane Irma rips through the Caribbean


The hurricane is the most powerful Atlantic storm on record, with wind speeds reaching up to 300 km per hour.

Friday September 8, 2017

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The view of Hurricane Irma from space. Photo: NOAA
The view of Hurricane Irma from space. Photo: NOAA

It is the first category 5 hurricane since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and is the first storm in almost a century to threaten so many countries with such fury.

The storm battered several islands in the north-east Caribbean including, Antigua, Anguilla, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, British Virgin Islands and Barbuda - where it is being reported that 90% of the island's structures were either damaged or completely destroyed.

The death toll currently stands at 11 but there are fears this number will grow as Irma barrels towards Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba. It is expected to make landfall in Florida on 9 September.

As many as 31 million people could be affected by Irma and now two more tropical storms have strengthened to hurricanes in the Atlantic region. 

Red Cross teams in the region are already on the ground responding to the humanitarian needs. Volunteers are supporting early warning efforts, relaying public awareness messaging and are providing first aid, shelter and water to those affected.

Additional relief supplies are on standby in Panama and the Dominican Republic. All regional emergency teams are on high alert and ready to deploy when needed.

Australian Red Cross is monitoring the situation and stands ready to support our partners as needed.  

Donations to Hurricane Irma can be made through the British Red Cross at https://beta.redcross.org.uk/appeal/hurricane-irma-appeal. Please note that donations made from Australia are not tax deductible.

All Australians should know how to prepare for an emergency. Get started at www.redcross.org.au/prepare