'Widespread devastation' in Dominica after Hurricane Maria

POINTE-A-PITRE: Hurricane Maria battered the Caribbean island of Dominica yesterday, with its prime minister predicting potentially grave losses and mass destruction as winds and rain from the Category 5 storm barrelled into territories still reeling from Irma.

With residents fleeing homes, Maria made landfall with top winds swirling at 257kmh, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.


"We have lost all what money can buy and replace," Dominica's premier Roosevelt Skerrit posted on Facebook, saying there were initial reports of "widespread devastation".

"My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains."

Earlier, he said his roof had been blown off, his house was flooding and he was "at the complete mercy of the hurricane".

"Rough! Rough! Rough!" he wrote on Facebook, later adding that he had been rescued.

Dangerous storm surges, destructive waves, flash floods and mudslides also threaten the Leeward Islands - the island group that includes Martinique, Puerto Rico and the US and British Virgin islands - the NHC said.

The centre earlier warned that "preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion" as the eye of the storm approached Dominica.

Guadeloupe ordered all residents to take shelter in a maximum-level "violet alert". - AFP