Follow live as Elsa marks the first hurricane of the Atlantic season
Storm Elsa has strengthened into what has become the first hurricane of the Atlantic season on Friday, pounding down on the eastern Caribbean.
The hurricane has forced schools, businesses and airports to close in the region, with a hurricane warning in effect for Barbados, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
With the hurricane believed to be headed towards Florida, there are fears that it could hamper rescue efforts in Surfside, Miami, where responders have been working tirelessly to search for survivors following the 24 June partial collapse of a residential building.
At least 18 people have been confirmed dead in the incident at the Champlain Towers South condominium, while 145 people are still unaccounted for.
Hurricane Elsa sees sustained wind of 74mph
Hurricane Elsa has seen sustained wind of 74mph near Barbados with a gust up to 86mph, according to the National Hurricane Centre.
The sustained speeds marked the former storm’s transition into a hurricane.
‘I am pleading with you’: St Vincent PM says hurricane cannot be taken lightly
St Vincent’s Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has warned that the winds Hurricane Elsa will bring could cause major “damage”.
As Elsa sustained winds of around 75 mph (120 kph), the St Vincent PM said: “I am pleading with you. Let us not take this hurricane lightly,” according to The Associated Press.
“This is not the time to play the fool,” Mr Gonsalves said.
Authorities have opened dozens of shelters in St Vincent, urging people to evacuate if they live near a valley.
Mr Gonsalves warned: “Do not wait until it’s too late to go to a shelter.”
Where will hurricane hit and will it reach Florida?
As Hurricane Elsa batters the Caribbean, there are fears that it could also impact parts of southern Florida, raising concerns that the tropical cyclone could shut down rescue efforts at the collapsed Champlain Towers condo in Miami.
US news editor Harriet Sinclair takes a look at where Elsa is expected to hit and whether the storm will reach Florida:
Elsa became the first hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic season on Friday
Elsa marks first hurricane of the Atlantic season, threatening rescue efforts in Miami
Storm Elsa has strengthened into what has become the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, battering the eastern Caribbean and making its way towards Florida.
Hurricane warnings came into effect for Barbados, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, with schools and businesses forced to close as the storm was declared a hurricane on Friday.
The tropical cyclone appears headed towards Florida, prompting fears that it could hamper rescue efforts in Miami, following the partial collapse of a residential building in Surfside.
Rescue efforts have been underway for days since the 24 June collapse.
Eighteen people have been confirmed dead, while 145 are still unaccounted for.
Hello and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of Hurricane Elsa as the tropical cyclone pounds down on the eastern Caribbean as it makes its way towards Florida.