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Preparations are ramping up in the southeastern United States after one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes caused death and massive destruction to several Caribbean islands.

ABC News reports that Hurricane Irama, with sustained winds of 180 mph, caused at least nine deaths by Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, Irma battered beautiful islands that are popular vacation destinations. Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda said Barbuda “is literally a rubble,” CNN reported. An estimated 90 percent of the structures on the islands are destroyed.

“The entire housing stock was damaged. It is just a total devastation,” he said, adding that residents of Barbuda, where there’s one confirmed fatality, have no water or phone service.

Officials in Puerto Rico said about 1 million residents are without power, and more than 56, 000 have no drinkable water, NBC News reported.

Irma is expected to strike the Dominican Republic early Thursday. Coastal areas of the southeast United States will feel the effects of the powerful storm later in the day.

SOURCE:  ABC News, CNN, NBC News

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