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The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history has passed directly over the Caribbean island of Barbuda, and swiped its sister island of Antigua, lashing both with winds of up to 185mph (295kph) and heavy rain.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) has said Irma is “potentially catastrophic” and warns that “preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion” in the islands in its immediate path.