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Hurricane Maria live: Path updates as storm approaches Leeward Islands | World | News

The weather front is predicted to be a category three hurricane, with winds of up to 120mph set to lash islands in its path.

And the UK Government is already taking steps to prepare communities in British overseas territories.

The Foreign Office is advising against all travel to the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and Anguilla, which have hurricane warnings in place.

Maria is expected to make landfall on Tuesday or Wednesday, with severe damage and warnings of coastal flooding. 

Parts of the central and southern Leeward Islands could see as much as 20 inches (51 cm) of rain, according to meteorologists.

The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said: “Additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours.

“Maria is expected to be a dangerous major hurricane as it moves through the Leeward Islands and the north-east Caribbean sea.”

International Development Secretary Priti Patel said the Government is “under no illusion about the possible impact of Hurricane Maria”.

She said: “We are taking every measure possible to prepare communities which have already been devastated by Hurricane Irma.

“British troops, police and aid experts are working relentlessly to get help to the victims of Hurricane Irma. 

“Those same individuals will now be tasked with also preparing for the impact of Maria, and to ensure support continues to get to those in need.”

Chris Austin, head of the UK’s Joint Task force, said: “We are planning for the unexpected, we are planning for the worst. 

“We need to demonstrate our own resilience because there is a real chance that Hurricane Maria may significantly impact on our existing efforts to provide relief.”

The Government committed nearly £60 million as part of the UK’s response to Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean.

Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded, killed more than 80 people on the islands and the US mainland.

The US territory of Puerto Rico has already opened shelters and dismantled construction cranes as it prepares for Maria to hit.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossell said today: “It is time to seek refuge with a family member, friend, or move to a state shelter.

“Rescuers will not go out and risk their lives once winds reach 50 miles per hour.”

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