Hurricane Irma inches towards Florida, about 6 million people to be evacuated

Hurricane Irma, a record Category 5 storm, is seen in this NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center image from GOES-16 satellite taken on September 5, 2017. Courtesy NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

Hurricane Irma has strengthened to a category four storm as it nears Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 130mph (209km/h).

Hurricane force wind gusts are battering islands in Florida’s south, the governor says, with the mainland due to be hit in the coming hours.

Water levels are already rising on the coast of the US state where a huge storm surge is expected.

At least 25 people died when Irma earlier hit several Caribbean islands.

In Florida, 6.3 million people – about 30% of the state’s population – had been told to evacuate. But on Saturday, the state governor said it was now too late to leave for anyone remaining.

The National Hurricane Center has issued warnings against “life-threatening” storm surges in the Florida Keys – a chain of small islands in Florida’s south – as well as Tampa Bay and other coastal areas.

More than 200,000 homes in the state have been affected by power outages, with 164,000 outages in Miami Dade county alone, according to utilities company Florida Power & Light.

(Source: BBC)

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