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Caribbean islands brace for powerful Hurricane Irma

HURRICANE: A satellite image shows Hurricane Irma

HURRICANE IRMA has been upgraded to a category four storm as warnings have been issued for several Caribbean islands, the BBC reports.

The hurricane had sustained winds of up to 220km/h (140mph) and was likely to strengthen in the next 48 hours, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

As a result, Florida has been declared a state of emergency, while Irma was projected to hit the Leeward Islands, causing storm surges, life-threatening winds and torrential rain.

This comes as residents in Texas and Louisiana are reeling from the effects of Hurricane Harvey, which struck as a category four storm, causing heavy rain and destroying thousands of homes.

However the NHC warned that it was too early to forecast Irma's exact path or effects on the continental US.

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