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Fiona becomes a major hurricane as it approaches the Turks and Caicos Islands


Fiona developed into a major hurricane as it tracked towards the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday, prompting the British territory’s government to impose a curfew.

“Storms are unpredictable,” Prime Minister Washington Misick said in a statement from London, where he was attending the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. “You must therefore take every precaution to ensure your safety.” Misick was due to return home on Thursday.

Fiona was centered about 20 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island early Tuesday with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, making it a Category 3 hurricane, according to the US National Hurricane Center in Miami. It was moving north-northwest at 10 mph.

Fiona becomes a major hurricane as it approaches the Turks and Caicos Islands
Fiona is seen approaching the Turks and Caicos Islands after becoming a major hurricane early on September 20, 2022.

NOAA


The center said Finona is expected to continue to escalate over the next two days, but is not expected to threaten the continental United States.

The storm was still dropping heavy rain over the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico early Tuesday.

The center said: “Heavy rain and life-threatening localized flash flooding continues over parts of the Dominican Republic today. Heavy rain around central Fiona is affecting the Turks and Caicos Islands this afternoon with flooding Continued deadly flooding is possible in southern parts of Puerto Rico.”

The National Guard rescued more than 900 people as floodwaters continued to rush through cities in eastern and southern Puerto Rico with up to 30 inches of rain forecast for some areas.

Fiona becomes a major hurricane as it approaches the Turks and Caicos Islands
A member of the Puerto Rico National Guard wades through water looking for people in need of rescue from flooded streets in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Salinas, Puerto Rico, September 19, 2022.

RICARDO ARDUENGO / REUTERS


In Puerto Rico, police said a A 58-year-old man died after being swept away by a river in the central mountain town of Comerio.

Another death on the island was linked to the widespread outage caused by Fiona – that of a 70-year-old man, officials say, was burned to death after trying to fill his generator with petrol while it was running.

Fiona’s blow was made more devastating as Puerto Rico has yet to recover from Hurricane Maria, which killed nearly 3,000 people and knocked out its power grid in 2017. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes on the island are still covered with blue tarps.

Authorities said at least 1,300 people and some 250 pets remained in shelters across the island.

Fiona caused a blackout when she hit the southwest corner of Puerto Rico on Sundaythe anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which hit the island in 1989 as a Category 3 storm.

Fiona becomes a major hurricane as it approaches the Turks and Caicos Islands
A man stands amidst debris by the sea in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, September 19, 2022.

RICARDO ROJAS / REUTERS


On Monday evening, authorities said they had restored power to more than 114,000 customers on the island of 3.2 million people.

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi warned it could take days before everyone has power.

Water service has been cut to more than 837,000 customers – two-thirds of the total on the island – due to cloudy water at filter plants or lack of power, officials said.

In the Dominican Republic, authorities have reported one fatality: a man struck by a falling tree. The storm displaced more than 12,400 people and isolated at least two communities.

The hurricane blocked several highways and a tourist pier in the town of Miches was badly damaged by high waves. At least four international airports have been closed, officials said.

Dominican President Luis Abinader said authorities would need several days to assess the effects of the storm.

Fiona has previously battered the Eastern Caribbean, killing a man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floodwaters swept away his home, officials said.


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