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In Pics: Toppled trees, lashings of rain as Hurricane Maria batters Puerto Rico

The Category 4 storm comes only weeks after Hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean and parts of the US.

world Updated: Sep 20, 2017 20:29 IST
Hindustan Times
Hurricane Maria,Puerto Rico,Hurricane Irma
Strong winds and rains lashed Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria made landfall on Wednesday.(AFP)

Hurricane Maria roared ashore in Puerto Rico on Wednesday as the strongest storm to hit the US territory in about 90 years after lashing the US Virgin Islands and devastating a string of tiny Caribbean islands, killing at least two people.

The Category 4-storm, with winds of 155 mph (250 kph), tore off roofs and sent doors flying off their hinges. The US National Hurricane Center warned of “large and destructive waves” as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the south-east coast.

This image obtained from the NASA's GOES Project shows Hurricane Maria on September 20, 2017. (AFP)

Maria is the second major hurricane to roar through the Caribbean this month. The hurricane slammed Yabucoa, on the southwest coast of the island of 3.4 million people, where thousands of people sought safety in shelters.

Maria’s eye was located about 25 kilometers southwest of San Juan at 9 am eastern time, the US National Hurricane Center said.

The top of a church is seen through branches as Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico in Fajardo, on September 19. (AFP)

Metal roofs were already flying and windows were breaking as the storm approached 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 a local radio station.

People take shelter at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the passage of the Hurricane Maria. (AFP)

Puerto Rico has 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.

Rain and wind hit a parking lot at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 20, 2017, during Hurricane Maria. (AFP)

Maria struck just days after the region was punched by Hurricane Irma, which ranked as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record, which left a trail of destruction on several Caribbean islands and Florida.

“We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history,” Ricardo Rossello, governor of Puerto Rico, said in a televised message on Tuesday.

The US National Hurricane Center warned of "large and destructive waves" as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast. (AFP)

Maria killed two people in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe and two people aboard a boat were reported missing off La Desirade island, just east of Guadeloupe, officials said.

About 40 percent of the island — 80,000 homes — were without power and flooding was reported in several communities.

A flooded road and a bus stop in the French territory of Guadeloupe after the passage of Hurricane Maria. (AFP)

First Published: Sep 20, 2017 19:20 IST