[HOT] – Live Briefing: Hurricane Irma: ‘We Will Have Victims to Lament’

• Hurricane Irma, one of the biggest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic, East of the Caribbean with winds up to 185 miles per hour

• With two confirmed deaths in the French Caribbean, President Emmanuel Macron of France says that there will be of the "victims to lament". There was also at least one death in Anguilla, a British territory and another in the island country of Antigua and Barbuda

• The category 5 storm began to strike Puerto Rico and threatened the ravages and the destruction in the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Cuba is also at risk.

• President Trump declared the state of emergency in Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The storm is expected to reach Florida on Sunday, which could cause catastrophic flooding.

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Barbuda is devastated, but Antigua is spared.

Early on Wednesday, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda declared that his nation had been spared the worst of the hurricane, stating in a statement: our main infrastructure has stood up and our country can get back to normal life in a matter of hours. "He went so far as to add," I dare say that no other country in the Caribbean would have been as well prepared as we.

This proved to be inaccurate: while the damage to Antigua was not as severe as expected, Mr. Browne announced in the afternoon that 90% of all the structures on his sister island, Barbuda, had been destroyed. At least one person was killed in the country.

When the Prime Minister made his first statement, communication with Barbuda was impossible. This is only later in the day that the extent of the devastation has become clear.

In St. Kitts and Nevis, Commissioner Ian Queeley of the Royal Police of St. Kitts and Nevis said in a text message that the first reports were encouraging. "Not too bad at this time," he wrote. "

– KIRK SEMPLE and CARL JOSEPH

" Considerable damage "in the French Caribbean

President Emmanuel Macron of France declared Wednesday evening that, It was too early to say how seriously the islands of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy had been badly damaged or how many victims had been victims, but French officials reported that the number of deaths was at least two, and Mr. Macron said the consequences would be "harsh and cruel."

"We will have victims to lament and the material damage on both islands is considerable," he said after a crisis meeting in Paris, adding that the "whole nation" was standing by the inhabitants of the islands.

Sir. Macron said the emergency services were focusing on restoring contacts with the affected areas and that rescue operations would be coordinated from the French island of the Caribbean of Guadeloupe, where the French overseas territories, Annick Girardin, was headed Wednesday evening.

The government will hold another crisis meeting on Thursday afternoon and will provide further details, Macron said.

As the storm moved further west, the French authorities declassified the cyclone alert for St. Martin and St. Bartholomew, stating that taking refuge was not more compulsory but warned that the displacement around the islands was still bad advised.

AURELIEN BREEDEN

In the Virgin Islands, it feels seismic.

Javorn Micheal Fahie, a taxi driver in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, said most of the galvanized steel roofs in his neighborhood had blown off. He saw two of them, houses facing his, flying in the wind.

"Oh, boy," he said in an Internet phone call from his concrete home in the Johnson's Ghut area of ​​the island, where he had been storm all day and published videos on his Facebook page. "A lot of wind and rain."

"All the trees around us have no leaves," he added. "All is empty"

Kelsey Nowakowski, who lives in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, described how she and four friends had collapsed and waited for the adoption of the storm .

"We've all been in hurricanes before, but we've never felt this like this before," Mrs. Nowakowski said in a Twitter message. "It feels seismic, it feels catastrophic".

– RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA and KIRK SEMPLE

In Puerto Rico, fears of raising waters.

Puerto Rican authorities warn residents to monitor the increase in water levels. Governor General Ricardo A. Rosselló said at a televised conference Wednesday that six to eight inches of rain were expected, with some areas receiving up to 12 inches.

"As the story tells with Harvey," he said, referring to the hurricane that struck Houston, "flooding can become the main cause of deaths in events of this nature ".

With the storm expected to pass just north of San Juan between 18 hours. and at 8 am the Governor had warned people to take refuge at noon in the homes or in one of the 156 government facilities. He warned that the authorities would suspend rescues after the winds reach 50 km / h

Carmen Caballero, 69, rushed supplies and rushed to the closest shelter of the government to San Juan around 3 pm, after the power came out in it the house and the branches began to fall out. The rain was torrential, and the traffic lights on the way to the shelter were out. But she arrived safely and, as a retired physician, she said that she had offered her services to others evacuated, including two people with Alzheimer 's disease and children with autism.

Nearly 30 years ago, Puerto Rico was hit hurricane Hugo, which left more than 28,000 homeless residents. But Abigail Acevedo, 60, who survived Hugo, said Irma was worse.

"This is phenomenal. There is nothing like it," Acevedo said in a telephone interview. "

Officials have warned that the fragile power grid of the" island could be closed for months in certain areas. The electricity company of Puerto Rico said that nearly 300,000 people had lost their power at the beginning of Wednesday afternoon. More than 4,000 have lost water service, mainly due to power outages. The governor asked the Department of Defense to activate the National Army Guard for recovery efforts once the storm is over.

The hurricane could hardly worse for the territory, which is at the forefront of an economic crisis and has no money for reconstruction.

– FRANCES ROBLES and LUIS FERRÉ-SADURNI

St. Martin's most "durable" buildings have been destroyed.

French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said on Wednesday afternoon that the four "most durable" buildings in Saint Martin had been destroyed.

President Trump owns a property in Saint-Martin, the Château des Palmiers, a domain on the edge of walls that is currently for sale. It is not clear if this property has been damaged.

Power was out in Saint Barthelemy and the roofs of many buildings had been destroyed, according to a statement from the prefecture of the French island of Guadeloupe, about 40 miles from Antigua- and Barbuda.

The situation in St. Martin was similar: there was no power, the fire station was flooded and the local police station no longer had any roof. The administrative offices of the island have also been "partially destroyed," said the statement of Guadeloupe, adding that the staff had taken refuge in a concrete room.

[Video: Live footage as Hurricane Irma destroys Maho Beach Cam in St Maarten 9/6/2017 Watch on YouTube.]

Live video like Hurricane Irma destroyed Maho Beach Cam in St Maarten on the 9th /

PTZtv video

In the middle of Wednesday, the hurricane "beat" the island nation of Anguilla, according to the National Hurricane Center. An officer who answered the phone at the Royal Anguilla Police Headquarters stated that a person had died in the territory.

Alex Woolfall, a British public relations consultant, was staying at the Westin St. Maarten station in St. Martin, when the storm deteriorated early Wednesday. Before the arrival of the storm, the hotel had warned customers to take precautions. Mr. Woolfall tweeted updates during the storm before power finally came out. AURELIEN BREEDEN and KIRK SEMPLE

Evacuations in the Bahamas.

Hundreds evacuated from the southern Bahamas began arriving in the capital, Nassau, on Wednesday, a day after Prime Minister Hubert Minnis urged them to "not be stupid and try to brave this monster storm. "

Marionette Simmons, 60, who left the Inagua district with three of her grandchildren, said that she had been exposed during Hurricane Ike in 2008 and "

My life is more important than anything I might have left behind," said Simmons.

Dion Foulkes – Minister of State Foreign Affairs and Consumers of the Bahamas, who coordinates the evacuations – said only about 200 people had chosen to stay on the islands, which begins to feel the effects of Irma on Thursday night.Earnel Brown, who owns a small hotel in Pirates Well on the island of Mayaguana, is one of them.

"I am a person of great faith, and I believe that this not just happening, they happen for a reason, "said Mr. Brown, 54." I believe everything is m elaborately planned by God. I'm not worried at all.

ERICA WELLS

Florida takes no chances.

In the county of Miami-Dade, the most populated of Florida, memories of the damage caused in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew, a category 5 storm, prompted residents to prepare for Hurricane Irma earlier than usual.

Most of the projections have Irma slamming into the state by Sunday, although it is not clear where it might arrive at the landing.

Wednesday, M Trump tweeted: "Look carefully at the hurricane. My team, who has done and done such a good job in Texas, is already in Florida. No rest for the tired! "

Gov. Rick Scott activated the state state guard and declared state of emergency in Florida. At a press conference he urged residents to consider evacuation advice and take action while the storm is still far away. Irma, he said, is more powerful and dangerous than hurricane Andrew

"Know your evacuation zone," he said. "Listen to your people. This storm has the potential to devastate the state. Take it seriously.

The governor said that 1,000 troops of the National Guard would be in service by Wednesday night and ordered the closure of most government offices Friday. He urged people to store on bases and fill out their prescriptions, and said that the state was striving to cope with the shortage of fuel and bottled water.

The evacuation orders for Miami-Dade County were expected Wednesday or early Thursday, Mayor Carlos Gimenez said, as a precaution for what should be an unprecedented coastal flood. The county hopes to open shelters on Wednesday and ordered schools to be closed on Thursday.

The Florida Keys were subject to a mandatory evacuation order: Wednesday morning for visitors and Wednesday night for residents. The three hospitals on the islands began evacuating patients on Tuesday.

Hurricane Harvey weighed heavily on people's minds. "I think that because of Texas, people are horrible," said Yoseyn Ramos, 24, a Miami resident who said he was worried because she could find no gas share. ] For more news and in-depth reports, follow @nytimesworld on Twitter