Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit wrote on his official Facebook page that the hurricane had ripped the roof off his house, which he had to be rescued from before he could appear on TV to give a statement.
Three airlines are capping airfares on flights departing from cities likely to be affected by Hurricane Maria, after allegations that the industry jacked up prices as consumers tried to flee Hurricane Irma earlier this month.
Hurricane Maria is causing major disruption across the Eastern Caribbean and cruise ports in San Juan and the U.S. Virgin Islands are now closed. He said his initial focus will be to rescue trapped people and secure medical aid for the injured.
"We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds", he added. He said "we have lost all what money can buy and replace" and said he feared landslides likely triggered by persistent rains may have resulted in deaths.
Nearly overnight, Hurricane Maria has progressed to a very risky Category 5 and has left a catastrophic trail of damage through Dominica and the surrounding Carribean islands - which we're already devastated by Hurricane Irma.
DW: Italian family die after falling into volcano
Solfatara's crater fields are scorching hot only a few inches below the surface and last erupted in 1198, the Daily Mail said. Italian reports identified them as Massimiliano Carrer, Tiziana Zaramella and their son, Lorenzo.
With maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour (250 km per hour), the storm slammed into the island as a Category 5 hurricane. And this coming just about two weeks after Irma skirted off the northeast of Puerto Rico.
Hurricane Maria strengthened into a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane at the top of the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale as it swept across the Caribbean on Monday night, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
After Dominica, Maria will move towards Puerto Rico as an "extremely unsafe major hurricane, and a warning has been issued", CNN quoted the NHC as saying. It is forecast to remain an extremely unsafe category 4 or 5 hurricane. As for the Leeward Islands, they could begin feeling the impact of the storm by Monday night.
Meteorologists are also watching Hurricane Jose, a less powerful storm in the Atlantic to the north. Jose, still a Category 1 hurricane, according to an 8:00 a.m. update, is expected to stir up "dangerous surf and rip currents" along the eastern coast of the U.S. in the next few days.
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