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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Three dead as Hurricane Irma makes second landfall at Naples

Hurricane Irma made landfall for the second time in Florida on Sunday, striking Marco Island near the popular shopping and golf destination of Naples.

The deadly hurricane hit at 3.35pm local time as a Category Three storm with top winds swirling at 115mph (185kph) 15 miles south-southeast of Naples, according to the National Hurricane Center.

US president Donald Trump approved Florida’s request for emergency federal aid on Sunday to help with the recovery from destructive Hurricane Irma.

The federal funding includes “grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” the White House said.

Irma is so large that cities on Florida’s southern and eastern extremes are being hit with surges and winds high enough to topple cranes in Miami, where the flooded Brickell financial district looked like a swift river. Hurricane-force winds extend 80 miles from its core and tropical storm-strength gales reach out 220 miles.

Meanwhile, it was reported that Irma had knocked out power to more than 2.6 million homes and businesses, threatening millions more as it crept up the state's west coast, and full restoration of service could take weeks, local electric utilities said.

So far, the brunt of the storm has affected Florida Power & Light's customers in the states' southern and eastern sections, and its own operations were not immune, either.

“We are about to get our own version of what hell looks like,” Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn said in a CNN interview.

Just over two weeks after Hurricane Harvey struck the heart of US energy production in Texas, Irma is threatening another region with almost $200 billion worth of damage.

By Sunday afternoon, Irma had knocked out power to more than 2 million customers, paralysed tanker traffic and shut about 6,000 gasoline stations. As the storm makes its way up Florida’s west coast, it’ll also threaten more than $1 billion worth of crops.

People who have decided to stay on the ground in Florida are writing their phone and social security numbers on their arms in case their preparations against the storm fail, according to US press.

Police in Florida say three have died after the category four storm made landfall in the U.S. state.

The head of the US federal emergency agency has warned "the entire south-eastern United States better wake up and pay attention" to the incoming hurricane.

Brock Long said Hurricane Irma will "devastate" either Florida or neighbouring states and that parts of Florida would be without power for days.

A video of a storm chaser, Juston Drake, was filmed by his friend measuring the strength of the winds. Although the results of this filmed test is unknown, Simon Brewer, who filmed the clip, made his own recordings around the same time of the post which measured 117mph.

More than 6 million people have been asked to evacuate Florida.

One man has died after he lost control of a vehicle he was transporting a generator in as winds picked up.

Two people have died in a head-on crash in Hardee County, southeast of the city of Tampa. The Florida Highway Patrol said the crash happened on Sunday morning, though it was not clear what role the weather may have played.

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Read more:

What we know about hurricanes Irma and Jose: facts, figures, forecast

Hurricane Irma will 'devastate' parts of America as 6.3m people are asked to evacuate

Florida storm veterans sit tight until the worst is over

Monster Hurricane Irma batters Caribbean islands

Hurricane Irma turns Barbuda to 'rubble' as storm the size of France churns through the Caribbean

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The hurricane has to hit the Keys with winds reaching 130mph (209km/h).

Florida Governor Rick Scott said he was "very concerned" about the state's western Gulf Coast, where the storm is expected to head next.

One official warned staying on the islands among storm surge warnings was "almost like suicide".

At least 25 have died in the Caribbean which was caught in the path of Irma.

Extreme winds, around the eye of the hurricane, are expected to last for the next two hours in the Lower Florida Keys area.

It is feared that a storm surge, which is a rising of the sea as a result of wind and atmospheric pressure changes associated with a storm, reaching 15ft (4.6m) could hit the islands.

The islands are part of the planned evacuation zone.

Latest official figures said more than a million homes in Florida have lost power.

The police have issued a warning to dissuade Americans who had expressed an interest at firing bullets at the hurricane.

It came as thousands of people joined a Facebook event entitled "Shoot At Hurricane Irma" due to take place at 10am on Sunday (local time).

A description of the event, set up by Ryon Edwards, 22, reads: "LETS SHOW IRMA THAT WE SHOOT FIRST."

Although the group appears to be a joke, the police department took the risk to safety of residents seriously enough to issue the blunt warning.