SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – The Latest on Hurricane Maria (all times local):
Zinc roofs were already flying and windows were breaking as Maria approached Puerto Rico before dawn, with nearly 900,000 people without power and one tree falling on an ambulance.
Those who sought shelter at a coliseum in San Juan were moved to the building’s second and third floors, reported radio station WKAQ 580 AM. The storm was moving across Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning at 10 mph (17 kph), with a gust of 113 mph (182 kph) reported in the capital of San Juan, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Puerto Rico had long been spared from a direct hit by hurricanes that tend to veer north or south of the island. The last Category 4 hurricane landfall in Puerto Rico occurred in 1932, and the strongest storm to ever hit the island was San Felipe in 1928 with winds of 160 mph (257 kph).
Hurricane Maria has made landfall in Puerto Rico.
The National Hurricane Center says the Category 4 Hurricane made landfall early Wednesday near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. It had a sustained wind of 155 mph (250 kph).
It was located about 30 miles (50 kph) south-southeast of San Juan.
Hurricane Maria has weakened to a Category 4 storm as it closes in on Puerto Rico but remains a dangerous hurricane that threatens to decimate the power company’s crumbling infrastructure and force the government to rebuild dozens of communities.
Maria’s maximum sustained winds Wednesday morning are near 155 mph (250 kph) and the U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm should keep that intensity until it makes landfall.
As of 5 a.m. EDT, Maria is centered about 50 miles (75 kilometers) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and is moving northwest near 10 mph (17 kph).
The prefect of the French island of Guadeloupe has raised the death toll stemming from Hurricane Maria from one to two people.
Eric Maire said Tuesday night that in addition to one person who “did not comply with the confinement instructions” and was killed by a falling tree, another person died after they “fell in the sea.”
The identity of either of the fatalities is unknown.
The Guadeloupe prefecture has also said two people are reported missing after a shipwreck near the French island of Desirade.
France’s interior minister Gerard Collomb said there were three people wounded in Martinique, including one seriously.
The extent of the damage from Tuesday’s hurricane is yet to be assessed on those French territories.
Puerto Rico faces what officials say could be the strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. territory as they warned it would decimate the power company’s crumbling infrastructure and force the government to rebuild dozens of communities.
Maria barreled toward the island with 175 mph winds and forecasters said it was expected to make landfall Wednesday midmorning along Puerto Rico’s southeast coast as a Category 5 storm, punishing the island with life-threatening winds for 12 to 24 hours.
The number of power outages spiked as Maria approached, with the storm centered early Wednesday about 70 miles (115 kilometers) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moving northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).
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