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Reports: Maria makes landfall in Dominica as Category 5 hurricane; Puerto Rico braces for direct hit

Islands devastated by Irma just a few weeks ago are now bracing for Hurricane Maria as it bears down on the northern Caribbean.

Maria has become the second Category 5 hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season and is on track to make landfall in Puerto Rico at midweek.

The powerful hurricane made landfall on Dominica early Monday night shortly after becoming a Category 5 hurricane and is on track to pass over other islands in the region through midweek.

Emergency declarations have been approved by President Donald Trump for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as people quickly prepare ahead of the storm.

Maria Mon eve

Satellite imagery showing Hurricane Maria early Monday night as it tracks over the Leeward Islands. (Image/NOAA)

Roosevelt Skerrit, the prime minister of Dominica, posted to his Facebook page that his roof has been blown off and his house is flooding. He says he has since been rescued as Hurricane Maria slammed the island earlier Monday evening.

The Prime Minister isn't alone. According to Antigua Newsroom, many people in Dominica have told local media that their roofs have blown off. The entire island has reportedly lost power. Photos and videos on social media show fallen trees and landslides.

Local radio station DBS reported that the roof had blown off the main hospital, Princess Margaret, in Roseau. Broadcasters said something had crashed into the station's building; shortly after, they stopped broadcasting.

At 9:15 p.m. AST Monday, Maria made landfall in Dominica as a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 160 mph. This is the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall on the island on record.

Significant damage is likely on the islands due to the intense winds, threatening structures and possibly even stripping vegetation of its foliage.

President Donald Trump has approved the emergency declaration in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with Maria tracking toward the islands.

Around 450 shelters have been prepared in Puerto Rico which are ready to accept more than 60,000 people.

People across other islands in the Caribbean, such as the U.S. Virgin Islands, are also bracing for the storm.

“Officials urge all those in homes damaged by Hurricane Irma or otherwise unsafe in a storm to seek a safe place to ride out [Hurricane] Maria,” the U.S. Virgin Islands said on Facebook.

Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina has also canceled his speech at the United Nations General Assembly so that he can return back to his country in preparation for Maria, the Associated Press reported.