1 Dead, 3 Rescued From Boat Off Puerto Rico

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Latest on Hurricane Maria (all times local):

2:35 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard says a woman and two children were rescued from a boat that went missing off Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria, but a man died aboard the vessel.

The Coast Guard in Miami said in a statement that a British Royal Navy helicopter hoisted three people Thursday from the capsized vessel. It had sent a distress call Wednesday saying it was disabled and adrift in seas with 20-foot (6-meter) waves and 100 mph (160 kph) winds near Vieques, Puerto Rico.

The Coast Guard says the dead man’s body was not retrieved and that the boat had capsized.

The search included an HC-130 search plane, a fast response cutter, the USS Kearsage amphibious assault ship and Navy helicopters.

The names of those on the vessel were not released.


1:50 p.m.

Hurricane Maria has strengthened slightly as it nears the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says data from reconnaissance aircraft showed maximum sustained wind speed increasing Thursday to 120 mph (195 kph), up slightly from 115 mph (185 kph). It remains a Category 3 hurricane.

Hurricane conditions are expected to begin in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas late Thursday or early Friday.

Tropical storm conditions are possible in the central Bahamas beginning late Friday.

Hurricane Maria caused widespread flooding and damage after pounding Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm. Rescue crews have fanned out across the U.S. territory as it tries to rebuild amid an economic crisis. (Sept. 21)


1:20 p.m.

New York City is sending emergency responders to Puerto Rico and is encouraging other city workers to volunteer with island recovery efforts.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Puerto Rico-born New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito discussed the Hurricane Maria efforts on Thursday. City workers will have to take vacation days or unpaid leave, but de Blasio says the city is trying to get them free transportation and places to stay. The city also is helping with fundraising.

Nine New York City police and firefighters stayed in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma. Another 27 emergency responders will fly there when conditions allow. Emergency management personnel also will be deployed.

An emotional Mark-Viverito says her family is safe but that other City Council members still haven’t heard from their loved ones.


1:10 p.m.

The search is on for a boat that went missing off Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria with two adults and two children aboard.

The U.S. Coast Guard in Miami said in a news release that the vessel named Ferrel sent a distress call Wednesday saying it was disabled and adrift in seas with 20-foot (6-meter) waves and 100 mph (160 kph) winds. Communications were lost with the boat near Vieques, Puerto Rico.

The Coast Guard, U.S. Navy and British Royal Navy are all assisting in the search Thursday. It includes an HC-130 search plane, a fast response cutter, the USS Kearsage amphibious assault ship and Navy helicopters.

The names of those on the vessel were not released.


12:55 p.m.

The prime minister of Dominica says more than 15 people are dead and 20 remain missing after Hurricane Maria’s direct hit on the Caribbean island.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit cried as he spoke to a reporter on the nearby island of Antigua.

He said more than 15 people died due to the storm and that it was a miracle that the death toll was not in the hundreds.

The center of the Category 4 storm hit Dominica with massive force late Monday night and early Tuesday, destroying hundreds of homes and cutting off the mountainous island’s communication systems and shutting its airport.

Skerrit says Dominica “is going to need all the help the world has to offer.”


11:35 a.m.

People in Puerto Rico are slowly digging out from Hurricane Maria.

Many streets are blocked by downed trees and power lines. In some places, the roads are impassable because of floodwaters and people are getting around on rafts and kayaks. But there are also signs of life.

People are removing their storm shutters. Lines are forming at the few restaurants that have generator power. They are a mix of tourist and locals as well as families with small children. Crews are visible throughout the island clearing debris and assessing damage.


11:15 a.m.

Forecasters say a severe flood threat is continuing across Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria’s outer rain bands pelt the island.

Senior Hurricane Specialist Mike Brennan at the U.S. National Hurricane Center says rains are expected to dump at least 4-8 inches (10-20 centimeters) of additional rain and up to 35 inches (85 centimeters) in isolated spots on the island.

“We’re still seeing heavy rainfall occurring over Puerto Rico and that will exacerbate the flash flooding,” Brennan said Thursday via social media from the Miami-based center.

He warned Puerto Rico residents who are venturing out after the storm to avoid areas near already flood-swollen rivers and not to attempt to cross flooded highways and roads on foot or in vehicles because of the threat to personal safety.

Forecasters say the ongoing rains also raise the risk of life-threatening mudslides.


10:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump is providing an update on the U.S. response to a series of massive hurricanes.

The president says in a meeting with the president of Ukraine that Texas and Florida are emerging from the hurricanes but says Puerto Rico was “absolutely obliterated” and the U.S. Virgin Islands were “flattened.”

Trump says Puerto Rico is in “tough shape” after it was ravaged by Hurricane Maria and notes that the “electrical grid is destroyed.” The storm knocked out electricity to the entire island.

But he says FEMA and other emergency responders are helping the islands and the southern U.S. states recover.

The president has told reporters that he will visit Puerto Rico.


9:35 a.m.

Dominica Tourism Minister Robert Tonge (TUNG) is describing his badly damaged country three days after Hurricane Maria made landfall in the eastern Caribbean island.

An update from Tonge says the capital of Roseau still has severe flooding and there’s heavy damage throughout the city.

The hospital and a community center both lost roofs. One of two airports serving the country is inoperable while the other is expected to be operational in the coming days. An estimated 95 percent of the roofs were blown off in some towns, including Mahaut and Portsmouth.

There are at least nine communities that no one has any information about because they’re cut off and most communications are down in the country.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is expected to speak from the island of Antigua later Thursday.

A number of people remain missing.


9:35 a.m.

The president of the hotel association in the Dominican Republic says Hurricane Maria didn’t do any damage to the county’s tourism infrastructure.

Joel Santos says that assessment includes Punta Cana on the eastern tip of the country. That was the area closest to the eye when the storm passed on its way toward the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands to the north. The government evacuated more than 4,000 tourists to the capital of Santo Domingo.

The meteorological service said Thursday that rain from the storm will continue in the Dominican Republic for the next two days for a total of around 19 inches (50 centimeters).


8:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump has approved a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria slammed into the U.S. territory.

The declaration makes federal funding available to Puerto Ricans affected by the storm, which has knocked out power across the entire island Wednesday and caused flooding and landslides.

Maria has killed at least 10 people across the Caribbean.

The Category 3 hurricane has maximum sustained winds near 115 mph (185 kph). It’s centered about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north-northwest of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and is moving northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).


5 a.m.

Hurricane Maria is lashing the northeastern Dominican Republic early Thursday and is expected to pass near the Turks and Caicos later in the day.

The Category 3 storm’s maximum sustained winds are near 115 mph (185 kph) and the U.S. National Hurricane Center says some strengthening is possible during the next day or so.

Maria, which has killed at least 10 people across the Caribbean, is centered about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and is moving northwest near 9 mph (15 kph).

Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans are rebuilding after the hurricane slammed into the U.S. territory Wednesday, crushing concrete balconies and paralyzing the island with landslides, flooding and downed trees.


3:30 a.m.

Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans stunned by a hurricane that crushed concrete balconies and paralyzed the island with landslides, flooding and downed trees vowed to slowly rebuild amid an economic crisis as rescue crews fanned out across the U.S. territory.

The extent of the damage is unknown given that dozens of municipalities remain isolated and without communication after Maria hit the island Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years.

Uprooted trees and widespread flooding blocked many highways and streets across the island, creating a maze that forced drivers to go against traffic and past police cars that used loudspeakers to warn people they must respect a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew imposed by the governor to ensure everyone’s safety.



This story corrects day of Coast Guard rescue to Thursday, not Wednesday.


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