France said emergency response teams would be sent to St. Martin once the storm had passed.
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As the Category 5 storm barreled its way across the Caribbean, it brought gusting winds of up to 295 kph, weather experts said.After making landfall just before 06:00 GMT in Barbuda, the hurricane swept on to French-run St. Barthelemy and the half-French, half-Dutch island of St. Martin.Irma began lashing Puerto Rico with rain at midmorning. Gov. Ricardo Rossello told residents to stay inside as the storm bore down on the island. Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Irma could be more devastating than Hurricane Andrew, which struck the state in 1992, especially with a storm surge that could reach 3 meters.Irma ranked as one of the five most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in the last 80 years.
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