26 Aug 2011

Irene now over the Bahamas

5:39 am on 26 August 2011

Hurricane Irene has destroyed dozens of homes on the Bahamas, but there are no reports of casualties so far.

Officials are urging people throughout the Bahamas to stay indoors in a safe and secure structure.

The category three storm, with winds of 185km per hour, is expected to strengthen as it heads towards the east coast of the United States.

At 1500 GMT on Thursday, the US National Hurricane Center in Miami said Irene was located 115km north north-east of the Bahamas capital, Nassau.

The hurricane is forecast to approach the coast of North Carolina on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Irene pelted the Turks & Caicos Islands with high winds and heavy rain. The BBC reports there was also flooding in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

In Puerto Rico, the storm knocked out power to more than half the island and affected the water supplies of more than 100,000 people.