Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Jamaica’s capital Kingston under the storm

A powerful hurricane has hit Jamaica with heavy winds and rain, damaging buildings and trees on the Caribbean island.

Beryl, a category four storm with winds of up to 215 km/h, hit the south coast of the island.

Photos on social media show streets flooded and roofs blown off.

At least seven people have died so far as the storm rages across the Caribbean.

  • Author, Vanessa Buschschluter
  • Role, BBC news

“It’s terrible. Everything is gone. I’m sitting in my house and I’m scared,” said Amoy Wellington, a resident of a rural farming community in the southern parish of St. Elizabeth, according to Reuters news agency. “It’s a disaster.”

A hurricane warning is in effect for Jamaica, where authorities have imposed a curfew from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time (11 a.m. to 11 p.m. GMT).

Prime Minister Andrew Holness earlier urged people to “take this hurricane seriously”.

“If you live in a low-lying area, an area that has historically been prone to flooding and landslides, or if you live on the banks of a river or a ravine, I implore you to evacuate to a shelter or to a safer area,” he said.

Video caption, Watch: Union Island resident explains the impact of Hurricane Beryl

Three people died in Grenada, where the hurricane first made landfall on Monday, one in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and another three in northern Venezuela, which was hit by high winds and flooding.

About 90% of the homes on Union Island, part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, were destroyed or severely damaged.

Parts of Jamaica have previously experienced power outages and electricity supplies. The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) said it was forced to halt the restoration of power lines in some locations for the safety of its employees.

At a press conference, NHC Director Dr. Michael Brennan said Jamaica would experience “devastating hurricane-force winds.”

Rainfall could reach 30 centimetres in some parts of the country, potentially causing flooding and mudslides, the director said, adding that life-threatening storm surges of up to 2.7 metres above the tide are also expected.

“Everyone in Jamaica needs to be in a safe place and be prepared to remain there for at least the next 12 hours,” Dr. Brennan warned.

Image caption, People have been stocking up on supplies in preparation for the hurricane’s impact

The BBC’s Nick Davis said Jamaicans rushed to supermarkets earlier this week to “get as much shopping as possible as quickly as possible”.

Jamaica’s Information Minister Dana Morris Dixon said the island has 900 shelters for people forced to leave their homes.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Cumanacoa in the Venezuelan state of Sucre is struggling with flooding

In Venezuela, Hurricane Beryl brought heavy rains that caused a river to overflow in the northern state of Sucre, killing three people and leaving several missing.

A government delegation was hit by a falling tree while assessing the damage.

President Nicolás Maduro said Vice President Delcy Rodríguez was among the injured, saying she was “badly bruised but conscious.”

In Mexico, where Hurricane Beryl is expected to hit in the coming days, residents of Cancun rushed to supermarkets to stock up on supplies, with some finding the shelves empty.

According to the NHC, Hurricane Beryl formed much earlier in the hurricane season than normal.

Meteorologists have also noted how quickly Beryl developed.

Hurricane expert Sam Lillo told the Associated Press news agency that the storm grew from a tropical depression to a major hurricane in 42 hours.

Predicted Track of Hurricane Beryl

In Texas, authorities warned residents to be prepared for the possible arrival of Beryl this weekend.

On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott told residents along the state’s Atlantic coast to “monitor the surge” and “have an emergency plan in place to take care of themselves and their loved ones.”

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned that the North Atlantic could see as many as seven major hurricanes this year, compared to an average of three per season.

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