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HURRICANE Maria has "reintensified" into a category five storm as it sweeps towards British overseas territories already battered by Irma.

The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said the hurricane had regained strength, with sustained winds of up to 160mph, as it approaches the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Maria had briefly been downgraded to a category four storm after making landfall in Dominica on Monday, but US Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft reported it had returned to the highest hurricane category, meaning it could cause "catastrophic damage".

Emergency steps are being undertaken on the BVI to prepare for the looming onslaught, although an official co-ordinating the operation has warned the islands had been "weakened" by Irma and the situation "doesn't look good".

Relief workers are racing to secure debris left strewn across the islands that have the potential to make the coming hurricane "more hazardous" if they are picked up by high winds.

Another British overseas territory, Montserrat, has been issued with a hurricane warning amid fears Maria could bring a devastating storm surge, while torrential rain could trigger deadly flash floods.

UK International Development Secretary Priti Patel said the Government is under no illusion about the possible impact of the strengthening hurricane and said they were taking steps to prepare communities.

The Foreign Office is advising against all travel to the BVI, warning residents to identify shelter "immediately" and be ready to take cover when the hurricane approaches.

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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Sep 20, 2017
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