Storm leaves about 60 percent of Barbuda’s population homeless and 900,000 people without power in Puerto Rico.
At least eight people were killed on the Franco-Dutch Caribbean island of Saint Martin by hurricane Irma.
Nearly every building on the island of Barbuda has been damaged and almost 900,000 people have been left without power in Puerto Rico as the Category 5 Hurricane Irma continues its journey towards mainland US.
Puerto Rico was buffeted by powerful winds and heavy rain as authorities struggled to get aid to small Caribbean islands already devastated by the storm.
The US National Weather Service said Puerto Rico had not seen a hurricane of Irma’s magnitude since Hurricane San Felipe in 1928, which killed a total of 2,748 people in Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and Florida.
But as the storm moved west, it devastated the small islands in its path.
By late Wednesday, the centre of the storm was about 135km north-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and heading west-northwest at 26 kph.
The US National Hurricane Center said Irma’s winds would fluctuate, but the storm would probably remain at Category 4 or 5 for the next day or two as it moves past just to the north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Thursday, nears the Turks & Caicos and parts of the Bahamas by Thursday night and touches Cuba on Friday night.
It will then probably head north towards Florida, which rushed to prepare for a possible direct hit on the Miami area with potentially catastrophic 300km per hour (kph) winds.
Meanwhile, the UN estimates as many as 37 million people could be affected by Hurricane Irma.
Source: News agencies