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Hurricane leaves Puerto Rico without electricity.

PUERTO Rico and Dominica are struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria as the eye of the storm nears the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Two days after Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, flooding towns, crushing homes and killing at least two people, millions on the island face the prospect of weeks and perhaps months without electricity.

The storm knocked out the entire grid across the US territory of 3.4 million people, leaving many without power.

Maria's death toll across the Caribbean has climbed to at least 19, nearly all of them on the hard-hit island of Dominica.

Joel Santos, president of the country's hotel association, said the hurricane did not damage the tourism infrastructure, even though it passed close to Punta Cana, the major resort area on the eastern tip of the island.

But prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit wept as he spoke to a reporter on the nearby island of Antigua, saying: "It is a miracle there were not hundreds of deaths. Dominica is going to need all the help the world has to offer." He said more than 15 people are dead and 20 remain missing after Maria's direct hit.

In Puerto Rico, the government said at least two were killed but media on the island were reporting additional deaths and the actual toll seems unlikely to be known for days.

The US National Hurricane Centre said the eye of the storm is near the Turks and Caicos islands, while rains and high waves are starting to subside along the northern coast of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The storm is east-north-east of Grand Turk Island, moving north-west at 7mph.

The Category Three hurricane has maximum sustained winds near 125mph but gradual weakening is expected during the next two days.

In Puerto Rico, the power grid was in sorry shape before Maria - and Hurricane Irma two weeks ago - struck. The territory's $73bn (PS53bn) debt crisis has left agencies like the state power company broke. It has abandoned most basic maintenance in recent years, leaving the island subject to regular blackouts.


A resident surveys the damage to her property after Hurricane Maria made landfall in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Alex Wroblewski

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:5DOMN
Date:Sep 23, 2017
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