AT least seven people are thought to have died from Hurricane Maria on the Caribbean island of Dominica it emerged today.
Communication has been down in Dominica since Maria's 160 mph driving winds and heavy rain barrelled through on Tuesday.
The internet is patchy and telephone lines are down with the only updates coming from radio hams speaking to other users in Barbados and the USA.
Today reports were emerging that 95 per cent of buildings on the island had been flattened and there was heavy flooding and landslides.
Hartley Henry, the Principal Advisor to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, confirmed he was able to contact him via satellite phone and spoke of the “tremendous” devastation to Dominica.
On Facebook Mr Henry posted the latest dramatic developments and revealed the PM fears the death toll could rise.
He said: "It's 4:30am and I just spoke with Prime Minister Skerrit via satellite phone. He and family are fine. Dominica is not!!
"Tremendous loss of Housing and Public buildings. The main general hospital took a beating.
"Patient care has been compromised. Many buildings serving as shelters lost roofs, which means that a very urgent need now is tarpaulins and other roofing materials.
"Urgent helicopter services are needed to take food, water and tarpaulins to outer districts for shelter.”
Speaking about the lives lost, he added: "It's difficult to determine the level of fatalities but so far seven are confirmed, as a direct result of the hurricane.
"That figure, the Prime Minister fears, will rise as he wades his way into the rural communities today.
"The urgent needs now are roofing materials for shelters, bedding supplies for hundreds stranded in or outside what's left of their homes and food and water drops for residents of outlying districts inaccessible at the moment.
"The country is in a daze – no electricity, no running water -as a result of uprooted pipes in most communities and definitely no landline or cellphone services on island, and that will be for quite a while.
"In summary, the island has been devastated. The housing stock significantly damaged or destroyed. "
A clearer picture was expected later after a Barbados coastguard boat arrived with aid and another is due to sail there this afternoon.
An assessment team from the Department for International Development along with crack Royal Marine Commandos is trying to get to Dominica, a former British colony.
Chris Austin, head of the UK Taskforce on hurricanes Irma and Maria said: "Dominica is a different kind of challenge for us because of its topography.
"It’s mountainous, that means there’s a risk of landslides, of flash flooding.
“It is also home to half the active volcanoes in the Caribbean which adds another dimension.”
Radio ham Julian Antoine posted on Facebook he had made contact with another operator on Dominica who had updated him.
According to Antoine, the operator informed him there “was at least 95 percent roof damage to buildings that he could see, landslides in every direction, flooding, and downed trees.”
He said he had been told of at least seven fatalities and many injured, while people were walking around "dazed and listless".
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Dominica's PM Skerrit gave a dramatic account on Facebook as he was rescued from the roof of his flooded house early on Tuesday.
He wrote: ''My roof is gone. I am at compete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding.''
Before the web went down he added: ''Initial reports are of widespread devastation. So far we have lost all of what money can buy and replace.''
''I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating…indeed mind boggling.''
The island, which has a population of 72,000 escaped Hurricane Irma which tore through the Caribbean earlier this month.
Maria is now pounding the British and US Virgin Islands as well as Puerto Rica and is then expected to head towards another British overseas territory the Turks and Caicos islands.
Storm chaser Mike Theiss wrote on Twitter from Puerto Rico: "The wind sounds like a woman screaming at the top of her lungs !"
Puerto Rico is being pummelled by the superstorm today as officials warned it would decimate the country's crumbling infrastructure and force the government to rebuild dozens of communities.
Maria made landfall in the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph and it was expected to punish the island with life-threatening winds for 12 to 24 hours, forecasters said.
"This is going to be an extremely violent phenomenon," Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. "We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history."
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