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Hurricane Irma upgraded to a Category 5 storm

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Hurricane Irma has strengthened into a Category 5 storm as it roared toward the northeast Caribbean on a path toward the U.S.

Irma's maximum sustained winds increased to 175mph (280 kph) early Tuesday. It was centered about 270 miles (440 kilometers) east of Antigua and moving west at 14 mph (22 kph).

Authorities warned that the storm could dump up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, cause landslides and flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet (7 meters). Government officials began evacuations in certain islands.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello warned that all decisions taken in the next couple of hours would make a difference between life and death.

States of emergency were declared in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and all of Florida.

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MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Irma has strengthened into a Category 4 storm as it approaches the northeast Caribbean.

The storm's center is 450 miles (725 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands late Monday afternoon. It has maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (220 kph) and is moving west at 13 mph (20 kph).

Emergency officials are warning that Irma could dump up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, unleash landslides and dangerous flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet (7 meters) as the storm draws closer.

A hurricane warning has been issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and St. Barts. A hurricane watch is in effect for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the British and U.S. Virgin islands and Guadeloupe.

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