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Hurricane Maria intensifies

The latest major Atlantic hurricane of the season, Maria, has powered back to category five strength after pounding the Caribbean island of Dominica.

It weakened to a four after wreaking “widespread damage” on the island but is now packing maximum sustained winds of 260km/h (160mph) again.

The storm is moving roughly along the same track as Irma, this season’s other category five hurricane.

At least one person was killed and two others are missing in Guadeloupe.

Local officials said one person was killed by a falling tree in the overseas French territory, while at least two more people were missing after their ship sank near Desirade, the easternmost island in the archipelago.

Maria is now heading towards the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

The governor of Puerto Rico, a US territory, has told the island’s 3.5 million people to seek shelter.

A curfew was imposed on the British Virgin Islands on Monday night and residents have been asked to stay indoors until the storm has passed.

Officials there fear the debris left by Irma earlier this month could now prove extremely dangerous in the winds of Maria.

The new storm is proving particularly treacherous as its strength can change dramatically in a matter of hours.

The former British colony, which has a population of 72,000 and is less than 50km long and 25km wide, escaped the worst of Hurricane Irma two weeks ago.

But on Monday the eye of the new category five storm passed directly over, making landfall at 21:00 local time (01:00 GMT Tuesday).

The roof of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s official residence was blown off in the storm.

As the hurricane struck in the middle of the night it has been difficult to assess the extent of the damage so far.

The French territory of Martinique has been hit by power cuts but is thought to have escaped serious damage.

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