Hurricane Dorian strengthens into ‘catastrophic’ Category 5 storm

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Hurricane Dorian has crashed into the Bahamas as the second strongest Atlantic storm on record and is forecast to move dangerously close to Florida in the next two days, US forecasters say.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Dorian made landfall on Elbow Cay in the Abaco Islands as a category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 295km/h and gusts of more than 354km/h.

Millions of people from Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas were bracing for Dorian’s possible landfall or for the storm to veer north into the Atlantic Ocean.

Mandatory evacuation orders are in place in South Carolina, covering nearly 830,000 people, and Georgia, affecting nearly 540,000 people, starting at midday Monday local time.

Florida is also under mandatory evacuation orders for low-lying and flood-prone areas and mobile homes starting either Sunday or Monday from Palm Beach County north to at least the Daytona Beach area, and some counties to the north issued voluntary evacuation notices.

Video from the Bahamas shows houses under water, boats overturned, trees and other debri snapped and floating in floodwater.