Hurricane Irma is going to “devastate” parts of the United States, the country’s Federal Emergency Management Agency has said.
The storm has been downgraded to a category four but is still packing winds of 155mph as it rolls ominously towards Florida.
FEMA chief Brock Long told reporters: “Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States in either Florida or some of the southeastern states.”
He warned that parts of Florida would be out of electricity for days if not longer and that more than 100,000 people may need shelter.
America’s National Hurricane Centre (NHC) has also warned of a “life-threatening storm surge and wind impacts to much of the state”.
The storm, which has already killed at least 14 people, is expected to reach Florida on Saturday.
Irma hovered over the Bahamas and the northern coast of Cuba on Friday.
Thousands of tourists were evacuated from low-lying keys off the Cuban coast on Thursday after 20ft storm surges were predicted.
Irma battered British overseas territory the Turks and Caicos Islands early on Friday, causing communications to go down.
Its progress through the Cairbbean has left a trail of destruction
There has been severe damage to the British Virgin Islands, Barbuda and Anguilla.
Another island, St Martin, has been affected by the looting of televisions and other items.
Minister for France’s overseas territories, Annick Girardin, described “scenes of pillaging” and wondered “how people can take advantage of the distress of others”.
On its side of the Franco-Dutch island, the French government said four people had died and about 50 been injured.
A further death was reported on the Dutch side.
Two French frigates are expected to dock in St Martin on Friday. Aid and personnel have also been arriving from the nearby French island of Guadeloupe.
Two more hurricanes – Katia and Jose – have formed in the Atlantic region.
:: You can see our special programme, ‘Hurricane: Path of Destruction’ today on Sky News at 4.30pm, 6.30pm and 8.30pm.