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At least 15 dead in Dominica after Hurricane Maria tears through

This Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, GOES East satellite image provided by NASA taken at 20:30 UTC, shows the eye of Hurricane Maria as it nears Dominica.
(NASA via AP)
'It has been brutal. I saw almost complete devastation,' Dominica's Prime Minister said

Hurricane Maria left more than 15 people dead in hard-hit Dominica, the small Caribbean island's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced on Thursday.

The toll from Dominica brings the overall number of confirmed deaths caused by Hurricane Maria to 18, including two in Guadeloupe and one in Puerto Rico.

"So far, we would have buried in excess of 15 people," Skerrit told a television network of Antigua and Barbuda, a neighboring country.

"If there (are) no other fatalities, it is a miracle," he said.

The hurricane devastated the island, which has some 72,000 inhabitants and was hit by the storm on September 18 when it was at the height of its Category Five power.

"It has been brutal. I saw almost complete devastation," said Skerrit, who has made several flights over the territory.

Now, "we have no water, no electricity, very limited communications," Skerrit said.

"The main hospital is functioning without electricity. It is very difficult. There are no generators, they have been set aside because of the flooding," he said.

Dominica, which is located near the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, has been almost completely cut off from the world.

Helicopter support is needed to airlift in supplies, with immediate needs ranging from food for babies and hygiene kits to generators and construction materials, the premier said.

"It is worse than a war zone," said Skerrit, who himself had to to be rescued during the hurricane, which blew the roof off his residence.

Hurricane Maria also caused devastation across Puerto Rico as 150 mile-an-hour winds from the island's worst storm in living memory flooded the capital and sent thousands scurrying to shelters.

The entire island -- a US territory -- was without power, which American media reported may not be restored for months. 

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