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Summary

  1. The "potentially catastrophic" hurricane remains at category five - the highest level - with winds of up to 260km/h (160mph)
  2. It is moving towards Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
  3. One death has been confirmed in Guadeloupe and two people are reported missing
  4. It made landfall in Dominica, where the prime minister says he is dreading news of possible deaths
  5. Maria is moving roughly along the same track as Irma, this season's other category five hurricane

Live Reporting

By Gareth Evans

All times stated are UK

Live coverage paused

We are pausing our live coverage of Hurricane Maria. Here's what you need to know:

  • The "potentially catastrophic" hurricane remains at category five with winds of up to 260km/h (160mph), the US National Hurricane Center says.
  • It has pounded the island of Dominica, and the Prime Minister of the former British colony says he is dreading news of serious physical injuries and possible deaths.
  • One death has been confirmed and two people are reported missing in Guadeloupe, officials say.
  • The French territory of Martinique has been hit by power cuts but is thought to have escaped serious damage.
  • It is moving towards Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands where the eye of the storm is expected to pass on Wednesday (local time).
  • The governor of Puerto Rico, a US territory, has told the island's 3.5 million people to seek shelter.
  • The storm is moving roughly along the same track as Irma, this season's other category five hurricane.
  • Read our report with the latest developments here

Why so many hurricanes?

The BBC's David Shukman explains why there has been a recent flurry of hurricanes forming in the Atlantic.

Why are there so many hurricanes?

How to prepare for a Hurricane

Harvey, Irma, Maria. The intensity of this hurricane season means fast and strong storms have been bearing down one after another.

So, how should people prepare?

For expert advice, read our piece detailing what to do before, during and after a hurricane.

Watch: The latest from St Kitts and Nevis

Lena Samuels, an aide to the prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis, gives an update from the islands as Hurricane Maria approaches.

She told the BBC that the "wind and the rain hadn't let up" and the island country is "battening down the hatches".

Hurricane Maria: St Kitts and Nevis battens down the hatches

Thousands without power in Guadeloupe

The French Interior Minister, Gérard Collomb‏, says 80,000 homes are without electricity in Guadeloupe. He adds that the extent of the damage on the island is "uncertain".

One death has been confirmed in the French overseas territory, which has a population of 465,000.

Image shows a flooded road and a bus stop on 19 September 2017 in the French territory of Guadeloupe after the passage of Hurricane Maria
AFP
A flooded road in Guadeloupe after Hurricane Maria passed

People boarding up homes in Puerto Rico

Will Grant

BBC News, San Juan, Puerto Rico

There’s an uneasy combination of expectation and nervousness in San Juan as residents wait for the arrival of a second huge hurricane in as many weeks.

Irma didn’t cause significant damage in Puerto Rico, yet thousands are still without power and conditions for those in poorer, less stable housing remain difficult. Hurricane Maria, however, is likely to make a far more direct hit on the island and could be the most powerful storm to make landfall on the territory in 85 years.

In advance of the high winds and rain, people are boarding up their homes, many businesses have already closed and it appears most families are simply not venturing out except to find the most necessary items.

Bottled water is beginning to sell out in stores and people are tracking the path of the storm carefully. Tension has risen a little further since people heard of the damage that Hurricane Maria caused on the tiny island of Dominica.

With Puerto Rico in the middle of a deep economic crisis and some communities still recovering from the last event, this is a bad time for the island to be experiencing another giant storm.

For now, however, Governor Ricardo Rossello has simply urged people not to risk their lives and for those in wooden or poorly constructed housing to seek refuge with family or friends.

Image shows people in San Juan, Puerto Rico, boarding up windows in preparation for Hurricane Maria on 19 September
AFP
People are boarding up their homes in advance of Hurricane Maria

Edge of Maria nears Virgin Islands

Radar imagery from the UK's national weather service shows the outer rain bands of Hurricane Maria beginning to cross the US and British Virgin Islands.

A curfew was imposed in the British Virgin Islands on Monday night, and residents have been asked to stay indoors until the storm has passed.

US forecasters say a storm surge - rising seawater coming in from the coast - is also expected to bring "life-threatening" swells of up to 9ft (2.7m) above ground in the Virgin Islands as well as Puerto Rico.

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The paths of Maria and Irma

Map of Maria's expected path
BBC

What is the UK doing to help?

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

Chris Austin, the head of the UK Taskforce for Maria, has said the UK is sending "another 60 tonnes of relief" to its overseas territories in the Caribbean.

Mr Austin told the World at One it is an "inspiration that the local population are knuckling down" despite the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Irma.

He said: "We owe it to them to have the same kind of resilience and stamina."

What we know so far

  • One person has been killed and two others are missing in the French territory of Guadeloupe, officials say.
  • Dominica's prime minister, who was rescued when the roof of his own home was blown off, says he is dreading waking up to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths from likely landslides on the former British colony.
  • The French territory of Martinique has been hit by power cuts but is thought to have escaped serious damage.
  • There are reports of flooding, mudslides and power outages in parts of St Lucia.
  • Maria still is a "potentially catastrophic" category five hurricane, with winds of up to 260km/h (160mph), the US National Hurricane Center says.
  • The eye of the storm is expected to pass near or over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday (local time).
  • The governor of Puerto Rico, a US territory, has told the island's 3.5 million people to seek shelter.
  • Check our report with the latest developments here
  • Read the dramatic Facebook posts from the prime minister of Dominica
  • British overseas territories warned

BreakingMaria kills at least one in Guadeloupe, officials say

The hurricane has also left two missing on the French territory, according to authorities.

French reinforcements leave Paris

The French Interior Ministry tweets that new "reinforcements" are leaving Paris and will arrive in the Antilles in the next few hours.

Numerous French overseas territories in the Caribbean, including Guadeloupe and Martinique, have been affected by Maria.

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St Kitts and Nevis PM urges residents to 'stay indoors'

The Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Timothy Harris, has advised residents to stay indoors.

The leader of the former British colony also extended his prayers to the island of Dominica, where he said Maria "did much damage".

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Maria's expected path

Graphic showing Maria's expected path
BBC

Puerto Rico gets ready for Maria

Our correspondent Will Grant tweets...

Hotels and businesses in Puerto Rico boarding up ahead of #HurricaneMaria - already hit smaller islands in its path.

Hotels and businesses in Puerto Rico boarding up ahead of #HurricaneMaria - already hit smaller islands in its path.

Maria stays at category 5

Hurricane Maria is now about 115 miles (180km) west of the French island of Guadeloupe, the US National Hurricane Center says in its latest update.

The storm has winds of up to 260km/h (160mph), it adds, and remains a "potentially catastrophic" category five hurricane.

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Travel advice from UK Foreign Office

The UK Foreign Office has sent its latest travel advice for the Caribbean islands expected to be on Hurricane Maria's path.

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Martinique airport 'reopens'

Martinique, a French island south of Dominica, has avoided major damage and its Aimé Césaire Airport is to reopen for flights, local media report.

Image shows damage and debris on Martinique after Hurricane Maria hit on 19 September
AFP
Martinique suffered power outages but avoided major damage from Maria

UK Taskforce: 'There's a lot to do'

Chris Austin, the head of the UK Taskforce on Hurricanes Irma and Maria, says the UK is sending 60 tonnes of relief on board HMS Ocean to its overseas territories in the Caribbean. That will add to the 75 tonnes provided to the region in the past week, he says.

"There's a lot to do, and people affected by this will have spent an awful lot of effort trying to patch up their homes", he added.

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Watch: Flooding in Martinique

In the French territory of Martinique, local media have shared videos of flooding and high winds caused by Maria.

Martinique, which is south of Dominica, is suffering power cuts but has avoided major damage.

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Satellite view of Maria

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tweets...

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Watch: British Virgin Islands latest

The BBC's Jeremy Cooke has the latest from Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, where residents are bracing for a second "catastrophic" hurricane in as many weeks.

Hurricane Maria: The latest from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands

Preparations in Puerto Rico

Preparations are underway in Puerto Rico, which is expected to be hit later on Tuesday by Maria.

Mark Moriarty, a tech entrepreneur living in the capital, San Juan, sent this picture of empty shelves in a supermarket as people rushed to buy supplies.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló told the island's 3.5 million residents to seek shelter.

Empty shelves at a supermarket in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Mark Moriarty

Forecasters 'very concerned' about storm surge

In a video update, the US National Hurricane Center said they are "very concerned about a life threatening storm surge" in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

They added that "the core of the hurricane is expected to move over Puerto Rico during the day on Wednesday".

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Watch: What's on Maria's path?

Hurricane Maria tracks towards Puerto Rico

'Peak Atlantic hurricane season'

Dr Steven Godby, an expert in natural hazards at Nottingham Trent University, tells the BBC that small island nations like Dominica are particularly vulnerable to tropical cyclones, and the impact can be long-lasting.

"Maria is the first major hurricane to strike [in Dominica] since Hurricane David took 40 lives in 1979," he said.

"This is the peak period of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June to November, and we have the right ingredients for hurricane formation at the moment.

"Sea surface temperatures are higher than average, wind shear - which is the change in speed and direction of winds from surface level to high in the atmosphere - is low, and there has not been any major input of dry, dusty air from the Sahara which can impact the development of these storms."

Video shows Guadeloupe flooding

Local media in the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe are sharing video and images showing flooding on the island.

Maria is currently off the south shores of Guadeloupe, where authorities have told residents to seek shelter and not go out under any circumstances.

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Storm warnings discontinued in St Lucia

Tropical storm warnings have been discontinued in St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, the US National Hurricane Center says.

The alerts are issued when tropical storm conditions are expected "somewhere within the warning area". The NHC shared its latest 8:00 AST (12:00 GMT) advisory on Twitter:

View more on twitter

Latest from the French islands

The French Interior Ministry tweets that the hurricane is moving away from Guadeloupe, but people there are still taking refuge. The first reconnaissance operations will start in a few hours.

In Martinique, it says, "the news is reassuring. No major damage. 50,000 households are without electricity and 10,000 are without water".

"The population must remain at home. The situation remains dangerous," it adds.

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Forecasters track 'catastrophic' Maria

Weather experts have been considering what Maria does next.

A meteorological scientist at The Weather Company, based in Boston, tweets:

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And NBC News weatherman, in New York, fears Puerto Rico will take the brunt.

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Hurricane Maria: What we know so far

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  • Dominica is the worst-hit territory at present. The Caribbean island's prime minister, who was rescued when the roof of his own home was blown off, says he is dreading waking up to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths from likely landslides.

  • Maria jumped from a category three to a vicious category five within just a few hours, taking Dominica by surprise. Warmer sea temperatures are thought to have been a factor in its rapid escalation.

  • Life-threatening mudslides, flash floods and storm surges have been predicted by the US National Hurricane Center, which is monitoring the region.

  • Maria is currently hammering parts of the French island of Guadeloupe, where residents have been told to seek shelter and not go out under any circumstances.

  • Montserrat, a British overseas territory just to its north, is next in Maria's path.

New pictures: Maria batters Guadeloupe

A picture taken on September 19, 2017 shows the powerful winds and rains of hurricane Maria battering the city of Petit-Bourg on the French overseas Caribbean island of Guadeloupe
AFP/Getty Images
Hurricane Maria bombards the city of Petit-Bourg, on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe
A flooded street in Pointe-a-Pitre after the powerful winds and rain of hurricane Maria battered the French overseas Caribbean island of Guadeloupe
YVES THOLE/AFP/Getty Images
Cars submerged on a flooded street in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe's biggest city
A picture taken on September 19, 2017 shows the powerful winds and rains of hurricane Maria battering the city of Petit-Bourg on the French overseas Caribbean island of Guadeloupe
AFP/Getty Images
Residents have been ordered to take shelter in a maximum-level "violet alert"

Nevis lashed as hurricane rages

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People on the Caribbean islands of St Kitts and Nevis have passed a terrifying night as Maria's fury rushed in.

Their foreign minister, Mark Brantley, told the BBC it was "a very, very traumatic experience for most of us".

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British Virgin Islands: Royal Marines shore up buildings

More than 1,300 UK troops were deployed to the British overseas territories of Anguilla, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands for relief efforts following Hurricane Irma.

They are staying put in the region, as an extra military resilience team of 42 servicemen and women is sent to the British Virgin Islands ahead of Maria's arrival.

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Power cuts in Guadeloupe, Martinique and St Lucia

A French civil protection official tells Reuters news agency that power has been knocked out on Guadeloupe.

No serious damage has been caused in the French Antilles, he adds.

Martinique, a French island south of Dominica, is suffering power cuts but has avoided major damage as the storm skirted its shores.

Flooding, mudslides and power outages have been reported in parts of St Lucia.

In pictures: US military evacuate Virgin islands

US military have been evacuated from the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria
Reuters
US military have been evacuated from the US Virgin Islands before Maria lands
Crewmen direct pilots aboard a MV-22B Osprey on the deck of the USS Kearsarge
Reuters
Crewmen direct pilots aboard a MV-22B Osprey aircraft on the deck of a US naval ship
Marine Corps crew chiefs and maintenance personnel play cards in a room near the flight deck of the USS Kearsarge as the vessel handles some of the evacuation of U.S. military personnel
Reuters
Meanwhile, marine corps crew and maintenance personnel play cards in a room near the flight deck

Guadeloupe roads and houses submerged

This handout picture released on September 19, 2017, on the Instagram account of "loly_fwi" shows the powerful winds and rain of hurricane Maria battering the Faidherbe boulevard along the City House (L) of Pointe-a-Pitre on the French overseas Caribbean island of Gaudeloupe
AFP PHOTO / INSTAGRAM / loly_fwi
Hurricane Maria batters Pointe-a-Pitre on the French Caribbean island of Gaudeloupe

Officials in Guadeloupe, a French overseas territory in the Leeward Islands, are warning locals to stay sheltered even if the hurricane appears to be easing.

"The phenomenon is still ongoing, it is necessary to remain in a safe place even if lulls appear," said the Prefect of Guadeloupe, Eric Maire.

He said the winds are still blowing strongly, houses and roads are submerged and half of the rain has yet to fall.

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'Prepare now to avoid loss of life'

Puerto Rico's governor urges citizens to take shelter

Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello is urging people there to prepare for Maria in the hours before the vicious storm arrives.

"We have to prepare for an extremely dangerous hurricane. We urge citizens to take action now to ensure their safety," he tweets.

"It is time to take precautions to avoid loss of life. The government continues to work on shelters and contingency plans."

He then retweeted a message from the US TV host Ellen DeGeneres sending good wishes - and urging those facing Maria to take precautions.

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St Kitts and Nevis foreign minister: Tremendous amount of fear

BBC World

People on the Caribbean islands of St Kitts and Nevis are taking shelter from Maria's onslaught.

Their foreign minister, Mark Brantley, told the BBC he was apprehensive about what was going to happen.

"Imagine the children, imagine the elderly, imagine those who are sick or hospitalised.

"It is a very, very traumatic experience for most of us.

"Once it's happening, the human element is definitely there.

"There's a tremendous amount of fear and a tremendous amount of just not knowing."

BreakingHurricane Maria is back to category five

Hurricane Maria has been re-designated as a category five storm, after slipping to category four.

The National Hurricane Center says it is about 205 miles (325km) southeast of St Croix, one of the US Virgin Islands, and is packing wind speeds of 260 km/h (160 mph).

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