Hurricane Maria rapidly intensifies as it moves towards Caribbean

Hurricane Maria which is heading towards the Caribbean has rapidly intensified, as a second major storm looks set to batter the region just days after Irma.

The National Hurricane Centre based in Miami said the weather front is predicted to be a category three hurricane, with winds of up to 120mph set to lash islands in its path.

"Additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to be a dangerous major hurricane as it moves through the Leeward Islands and the north-east Caribbean sea," the centre said.

Maria is expected to make landfall on Tuesday or Wednesday, with severe damage and warnings of coastal flooding. Surges may be nine feet higher than normal tide levels.

Up to 12ins of rain is predicted to fall, with "isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches" expected to hit the British Virgin Islands through Wednesday night.

In Anguilla a maximum amount of up to eight inches could fall.

The National Hurricane Centre has warned that "rainfall on these islands could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides".

Assault Engineers fixing the roof of a house on the Island of Tortola. Photo: PA

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