Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Caribbean islands

The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history has made its first landfall in the islands of the north-east Caribbean.

The National Weather Service said the eye of Hurricane Irma passed over Barbuda early on Wednesday, local time.

Residents said that phone lines went down as the hurricane’s eye passed.

The National Hurricane Centre said Irma was maintaining Category 5 strength with sustained winds near 295 kilometres per hour and heading west-northwest on a path toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly heading for Florida over the weekend.

US President Donald Trump has approved pre-landfall emergency declarations for Florida and the American territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, mobilising federal disaster relief efforts in all three jurisdictions ahead of Irma’s arrival, the White House said.