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Irma will devastate U.S. states, says federal official

Staff Writer |
The first official hurricane warnings were issued for Florida by the National Hurricane Center late Thursday evening as the storm continues to draw closer to the U.S.

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South Florida and the Florida Keys were both issued hurricane warnings and storm surge warnings as the National Weather Service (NWS) sent out its 11 p.m. update on Thursday.

"A Storm Surge Warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline, during the next 36 hours in the indicated locations," the NWS said.

Hurricane Irma will "devastate" either Florida or neighbouring states, the head of the U.S. federal emergency agency has said.

Brock Long said parts of Florida would be without power for days. Half a million people in the state have been ordered to leave their homes.

Hurricane Irma has left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean, affecting an estimated 1.2m people. At least 20 people are known to have died so far.

It has been downgraded to a category four storm, but officials warn that it remains "extremely dangerous".

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