- Hundreds of tourists have been forced to flee their luxury holiday destinations
- Comes after the hurricane was upgraded to a category five – the most dangerous
- The extreme weather is expected to bring life-threatening winds and rain
British tourists are being evacuated from islands across the Caribbean to avoid the onset of Hurricane Irma.
Hundreds of terrified holidaymakers have been flown out of the region as the ferocious storm gathers pace and moves closer towards many famous resorts.
Evacuation: Panicked tourists are being flown out of the Caribbean by British Airways
Simultaneously, it flew an empty plane to the popular destination, where it rescued helpless, panicked tourists.
A representative for BA told MailOnline: ‘The safety of our customers and crew is always our priority.
‘We are in contact with travellers in Antigua and have laid on a special flight today to get as many home as possible before the hurricane arrives on the island.
‘The Antigua and St Kitts airport authorities have advised us that their airports will be closed tomorrow. We have offered all customers due to travel to the Caribbean and Florida in the coming days a range of re-booking options and are keeping our flights to the entire region under review.?’
Other airlines, such as Virgin Atlantic, have also flown countless customers away from the danger – just 24 hours before the impact is expected to be felt.
Meanwhile, local residents stocked-up on emergency supplies and tried to secure their houses from the oncoming hurricane.
Risk: British Airways was forced to cancel its morning flight from London to Antigua, today, shortly after the hurricane was upgraded to a category five – the most dangerous
Earlier in the day The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Irma had sustained winds of 175mph and was centered about 270 miles east of Antigua. It was moving west at 14mph.
The center said there was a growing possibility that the storm’s effects would be felt in Florida later this week and over the weekend, though it was still too early to be sure of its future track: ‘Everyone in hurricane-prone areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place.’
WHEN WILL IRMA HIT?
Leeward Islands: Late Tuesday to Wednesday. Tropical storm-force winds start later Tuesday
Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands: Wednesday to early Thursday
Dominican Republic/Haiti: Thursday to early Friday
Turks and Caicos: Late Thursday to Friday
Bahamas: Friday to this weekend
Cuba: Friday to this weekend
Southeast United States: This weekend into early next week, beginning in south Florida on Saturday
Irma’s center was expected to move near or over the northern Leeward Islands late Tuesday and early Wednesday, the hurricane center said. The eye was then expected to pass about 50 miles from Puerto Rico late Wednesday.
Authorities warned that the storm could dump up to 10 inches of rain, cause landslides and flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet.
Government officials began evacuations and urged people to finalize all preparations as shelves emptied out across islands including Puerto Rico.
‘The decisions that we make in the next couple of hours can make the difference between life and death,’ Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. ‘This is an extremely dangerous storm.’
Residents on the U.S. East Coast were urged to monitor the storm’s progress in case it should turn northward toward Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas.
‘This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain Fema and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of (Hurricane) Harvey,’ Evan Myers, chief operating officer of AccuWeather, said in a statement.
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online