Communications went down as the storm slammed into the island, and the extent of the devastation was not immediately clear.
Already, the deadly Category 5 storm has reduced entire islands to rubble. Its latest map also shows a third, smaller storm – Katia – in the Gulf of Mexico.
The eye of the hurricane passed over Barbuda around 1:47 a.m. ET Wednesday, the U.S. National Weather Service said. “People were contacting family back in the United Kingdom to find out what was going on”.
But the travel company said major storms in the Caribbean and surrounding countries could hurt its forecast that adjusted operating income in the fourth quarter will be similar to 2015, and up from a year ago.
The president of the territorial council, Daniel Gibbs, said on Radio Caraibes International that Saint-Martin is “95 percent destroyed”.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Officials say they are working with local authorities to coordinate their rescue efforts and advise anyone in the affected areas to follow the instructions of authorities. The airport is famous around the world because its runway ends very close to a beach, where tourists can stand and watch landing aircraft skim low overhead.
He said damage seems to have been concentrated in infrastructure for crops including bananas.
A woman cleans debris around a home after Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016.
This story was written by Anthony Faiola and Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post.
A police vehicle passes a fallen power pole as Hurricane Irma moves off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, in Nagua, Dominican Republic, on Thursday.
Memories are still fresh of the loss of 600 or more lives in Haiti last October from Hurricane Matthew, which made landfall as a category 4 and caused enormous economic losses to the impoverished country still recovering from the 2010 quake. There have only been six major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) in the country since 1851, and never a Category 5.
Hurricane Irma is one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic.
About 95 percent of the tiny island of Barbuda sustained damage, according to Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
“You have got an extremely large population of really vulnerable people”, she said.
In a press release, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned that more than 10.5 million children live in the countries that are likely to be exposed to the damage from Hurricane Irma.
OCHA said there is continued risk of catastrophic damage from hurricane force winds, storm surge, and flooding in areas on Irma’s trajectory.
In Puerto Rico, residents expressed relief that the storm did not leave a trail of death.