- Irma makes landfall on Cuba
- Hurricane strengthens to category 5
- More than 6 million people told to evacuate Florida and Georgia
- Officials: 'This is a storm that will kill you if you don't get out of the way'
- White House warns: 'There will come a point where you are on your own'
- Region faces new threat from Hurricane Jose in same path
- Island by island: How Irma brought havoc to paradise
- British response to Hurricane Irma 'found wanting'
- Hurricane Irma: death toll, devastation and predicted path - everything we know
- Airlines warn of massive disruption
- An estimated 400,000 Britons live in Florida
- Foreign Office hotline for people affected: 020 7008 0000
Hurricane Irma lashed Cuba and the Bahamas as it drove toward Florida on Saturday after hitting the eastern Caribbean with its devastatingly high winds, killing 21 people and leaving catastrophic destruction in its wake.
It made landfall on Cuba late on Friday night as a Category 5 storm, striking the Camaguey Archipelago with 160 mph (260 kph) winds.
Shortly before midnight local time (5am UK) Irma was about 300 miles (485 km) southeast of Miami.
As many as 5.6 million people were told to evacuate from Florida - more than a quarter of the state's population. At least 540,000 people in parts of Georgia were also told to flee as the storm headed towards the American mainland.
"This is a storm that will kill you if you don't get out of the way," said National Hurricane Center meteorologist and spokesman Dennis Feltgen.
Feltgen said the storm has a really wide eye, with hurricane-force winds that cover the entire Florida peninsula and potentially deadly storm surges on both coasts.
Tom Bossert, US homeland security adviser, said: "Please listen to your local authorities.
"You need to evacuate from south to north – that is a staggered and carefully thought-out process.
"There will come a point where you are on your own."
In West Palm Beach police are going door to door, urging people to obey the mandatory evacuation order.
Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, said they were working to ensure that fuel was available for cars to get to shelters. He told people they should not wait, and should leave now.
Irma claimed its first victim in Florida, even before making landfall, when a 57-year-old man fell from a ladder while fitting storm shutters at his home.
Live: Track Hurricane Irma's deadly path in real time
The RAF has sent several aid planes to the region after the British territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands was "pummelled" by howling winds of up to 175mph and 20ft waves early on Friday.
Irma is now tracking a path down the coast of Cuba towards the Bahamas, where it is due to reach early on Saturday, before hitting southern Florida early on Sunday.
Florida's major theme parks, including Walt Disney World, Universal and SeaWorld, will remain closed throughout the weekend.
The US military was on Friday night mobilising thousands of troops and deploying several large ships to aid with evacuations and humanitarian relief, as the air force removed scores of planes from the region.
Meanwhile, extra troops were sent to the devastated holiday island of Saint-Martin on Friday to control serious looting, as three RAF planes began ferrying troops and equipment to hard-hit British territories. UK Marines have also arrived on Anguilla to begin repairing buildings.
As Irma cuts through the Caribbean, two other storms in the region have been upgraded to hurricane status: Katia in the Gulf of Mexico and Jose, which is following Irma in the Atlantic and has made landfall in eastern Mexico. However it had weakened to a Category 1 storm.
The Red Cross said an estimated 1.2 million people have already been affected by Irma and that figure could rise sharply to 26 million, amid fears disease could spread in areas where drinking water and sanitation services have broken down.
US President Donald Trump said in a videotaped statement that Irma was "a storm of absolutely historic destructive potential" and called on people to heed recommendations from government officials and law enforcement.
In Palm Beach, Trump's waterfront Mar-a-Lago estate was ordered evacuated. But strikes by four previous hurricanes did little damage to the facility in the 90 years since cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and her second husband, financier E.F. Hutton, built the 126-room, 62,500-square foot (5,800-square meter) estate in Palm Beach. The mansion's walls are 3-feet (1 metre) thick, anchored by steel and concrete beams embedded into coral rock.
An estimated 400,000 Britons live in Florida. They and thousands of tourists are being supported by David Prodger, the UK's consul general, with a team of staff deployed at Miami airport helping people to get home.
Everything we know so far
Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century, made landfall on Cuba late on Friday night and latest projections indicate it should reach the Florida Keys between 5am and 7am on Sunday.
It was expected to hit Florida on Sunday morning, bringing massive damage from wind and flooding to the fourth-largest state by population. A historic evacuation, including from areas around Miami, has been made more difficult by clogged highways, gasoline shortages and the challenge of moving older people in the top retirement destination. For more information click here.
How Irma looks from space
Latest images from the National Weather Service
Hurricane Katia makes landfall in eastern Mexico
Hurricane Katia made landfall in eastern Mexico late Friday, US forecasters said, just as the country grappled with its worst earthquake in a century.
The storm had weakened to a Category One storm - the lowest on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale - by the time it reached the state of Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico.
At 0300 GMT, the storm was located 185 kilometers northwest of Veracruz with maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
It was moving west-southwest at 11 kilometers per hour, and was projected to pour 10 to 15 inches of rain over northern Veracruz, eastern Hidalgo and Puebla.
Donald Trump approves another emergency declaration
The US president announced a further emergency declaration, this time for the Seminole tribe in Florida.
Around 2,000 live on six reservations in the state - located in Hollywood, Big Cypress, Brighton, Immokalee, Ft. Pierce, and Tampa.
In common with many other native American tribes, Seminoles enjoy considerable autonomy, which is why they made a separate appeal for an emergency declaration.
Hurricane expected to hit Florida Keys on Sunday morning
Irma is expected to make landfall on the Florida Keys, a coral cay archipelago located off the southern coast of the state, between 5am and 7am on Sunday. A mandatory evacuation is already in place, with residents being warned that they are likely to be cut off from the American mainland once Irma strikes.
The National Weather Service has issued a stark warning to the 73,000 residents that nobody will be safe once Irma strikes.
Irma makes landfall in Cuba
Hurricane Irma strengthened and made landfall in Cuba on Friday as a Category 5 storm.
Irma struck Camaguey Archipelago with 160 mph (260 kph) winds late on Friday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in an advisory. Category 5 is the NHC's most powerful designation.
British consulate in Miami helping UK citizens
With an estimated 400,000 British residents and thousands more tourists in Florida, David Prodger, the British consul general is leading staff helping nationals on the ground.
Our team at Miami airport are continuing to support British nationals. Pictured issuing an emergency passport to help a Brit get home. pic.twitter.com/n6eMeiZCHW— UK in Florida ���� (@UKinFlorida) September 9, 2017
A team has been deployed at Miami airport to help people get back to the UK safely.
Holy scrolls rescued from Florida Synagogue
Six Torahs - including two which survived the Holocaust - have been taken to safety ahead of Irma hitting Florida.
The scrolls belong to the Temple Beth Orr, a congregation of 325 families in Coral Springs, a town 20 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale.
Two of the Torahs date back to the 1780s and were once used in what was then Czechoslovakia.
They were stripped from a synagogue in Strážnice and kept in a warehouse before being taken to London and then, in the 1980s, lent to the temple in Florida.
With the Florida synagogue lacking shutters urgent measures were needed to protect the precious artefacts.
“You have to think of them as being as fragile as human life,” said Marci Bloch, the temple’s senior rabbi told the Miami Herald.
Man dies in Florida while preparing for Irma
Hurricane Irma claimed its first victim in Florida even before making landfall. A 57-year old man was killed after falling from a ladder while installing storm shutters at his home in Davie.
Airlines warn of massive disruption
Getting away from Florida by air will prove difficult with airlines warning that services will face massive disruption.
The cost of some fares has already soared with British Airways, for example, quoting $2,884 (£2,185) for a one-way economy trip from Miami to London on its first available flight on Tuesday.
Virgin Atlantic has economy class seats available on Monday to London from Miami for $1,656.60 (£1,255).
Both airlines are warning of significant disruption to their services.
Virgin has told passengers who have booked flights to 25 Caribbean and Florida destinations up until September 17 that they can reschedule or switch to another destination.
British Airways has made a similar offer for passengers on flights to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Orlando up until September 17.
BA customers can also use the value of their ticket towards an alternative destination on its network if they no longer wish to travel to or from Florida.
Trump speaks to French president Macron
Donald Trump has spoken to his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron to extend his condolences for the loss of life on St. Barthélemy and St. Martin, the White House said.
Alabama issues state of emergency
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has issued a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Irma.
The remnants of the deadly hurricane are currently projected to sweep into Alabama and Georgia by Monday morning, bringing strong winds and rain.
The governor said even though it appears Alabama will escape the brunt of the storm, the state will certainly be affected by the tropical system.
"We must be ready to respond, no matter what comes our way," Ivey said.
5.6 million people told to evacuate Florida
Florida has asked 5.6 million people to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma, or more than one quarter of the state's population, according to state emergency officials.
Andrew Sussman, the state's hurricane program manager, said the total includes people throughout the southern half of the state as well as those living in inland Florida in substandard housing who were also told leave due to the dangerous storm that will slam the state this weekend.
Florida is the nation's third-largest state with nearly 21 million people according to the U.S. Census.
For days Gov. Rick Scott has been urging residents to evacuate, especially those who live in coastal areas that could be flooded due to the walls of water expected from Irma's arrival.
At least 540,000 people have been told to evacuate from parts of Georgia.
'This is a storm that will kill you'
The National Hurricane Center is warning Floridians that even if the storm seems to moving away from the East Coast in the latest tracks, don't get complacent, AP reports.
"This is a storm that will kill you if you don't get out of the way," said National Hurricane Center meteorologist and spokesman Dennis Feltgen.
Feltgen says the storm has a really wide eye, with hurricane-force winds that cover the entire Florida peninsula and potentially deadly storm surges on both coasts.
"Everybody's going to feel this one," Feltgen said.
Britain's US ambassador: People’s safety is the number one concern of British and US authorities
British Ambassador Kim Darroch issued the following statement:
This is a message to all British nationals in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina: If you are in the path of Hurricane Irma, please follow the advice of state and local authorities, including any evacuation orders.
Hurricane Irma has already brought devastation in its wake, and my thoughts are with all those affected, particularly those in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos.
Irma is the most powerful storm to hit the Atlantic, and people’s safety is the number one concern of British and US authorities. We are working with state and US authorities to ensure that support is available and everything can be done before Hurricane Irma reaches Florida. Teams of staff have been at airports in the affected area providing advice and support to British nationals, and additional staff are on standby to provide assistance once the hurricane has passed.
As well as Florida, much of Georgia, coastal areas of South Carolina, and parts of North Carolina are in Irma’s projected path. Authorities in all four states have declared a state of emergency. In Florida, mandatory evacuations are widespread throughout the state (check here for details). In Georgia, the authorities have issued mandatory evacuation orders for all areas east of I-95, all of Chatham County and some areas west of I-95.
Again, if you are in the path of the hurricane, please follow the advice of local authorities, including any evacuation orders. And continue to check the Foreign Office’s travel advice.
If you evacuate, please get in touch with your family and tell them your plans. And if you are in need of help from the Foreign Office, or are concerned about others, call our emergency hotline on +44 207 008 0000.
Florida gun owners encouraged to 'shoot the storm' and fire their guns at Hurricane Irma
A Florida man who suggested shooting guns at Hurricane Irma out of "stress and boredom" has found that his idea has captured peoples' imaginations - with over 46,000 signing up to join in, Harriet Alexander writes.
Hurricane Irma is due to hit Florida on Saturday, and the state is currently experiencing the largest ever mass evacuation due to a hurricane in American history.
But Ryon Edwards, 22, came up with a novel way of amusing himself during the storm: firing bullets into it.
He started a Facebook "event", and as of Friday evening 46,000 people say they are interested.
"A combination of stress and boredom made me start the event," he told the BBC.
"The response is a complete and total surprise to me.
"I never envisioned this event becoming some kind of crazy idea larger than myself. It has become something a little out of my control."
Graphics suggesting how to shoot at a hurricane have sprung up online, with the suggestion that if you fire correctly the bullet might not come back and kill you.
Since Mr Edwards came up with his "masterplan", other similar Facebook pages have been created - including one suggesting using flame throwers to scare away the storm.
"It's time we took a stand against this bully!" reads the event description. "This is our home, nobody drives us out of our own territory.
"Join me in this fight as we shoot flames at Hurricane Irma and dissipate her on the spot."
US military mobilises thousands of troops for Irma effort
The US military is mobilising thousands of troops and deploying several large ships to aid with evacuations and humanitarian relief, as the air force removed scores of planes from the region.
The governors of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Florida have together activated nearly 14,000 National Guard personnel to support search-and-rescue missions and evacuations, a Pentagon statement read.
Meanwhile, the USS Kearsarge and the USS Oak Hill - an amphibious assault ship and a dock landing ship - are being sent to aid in relief efforts.
Disney World shuts down for Hurricane Irma
Florida's major theme parks are planning to close as Hurricane Irma approaches the state.
Officials at Walt Disney World in Orlando announced on Friday afternoon that its parks will close on Saturday and remain closed until Tuesday.
Universal Orlando announced on its website that it will close at 7 p.m. on Saturday and will remain closed until Tuesday.
SeaWorld in Orlando and Busch Gardens, which is in Tampa, also announced plans to shut down at 5 p.m. on Saturday and remain closed until Tuesday.
Last October, the theme parks also closed down for Hurricane Matthew, which skirted Florida's southeast coast.
US waives restrictions to ease fuel transport
The Homeland Security Department is temporarily waiving federal restrictions on foreign ships' transportation of cargo in order to help distribute fuel to states and territories affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
In a statement, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said, "This is a precautionary measure to ensure we have enough fuel to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure." The seven-day waiver specifically affects shipments of refined products, such as gasoline, in hurricane-affected areas.
The Jones Act prohibits such shipments between US points aboard foreign vessels. The last such waiver was in December 2012, for petroleum products delivered after Hurricane Sandy.
Authorities battle looting as Caribbean aid efforts continue
Hundreds of police reinforcements and rescue teams began arriving on St Martin, an island divided between France and the Netherlands, amid reports of pillaging and shortages of drinking water, food and fuel, AFP reports.
An AFP photographer saw a crowd of around a dozen people breaking into a mini-supermarket in the Quartier-d'Orleans area of the island on Thursday.
The Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad on Friday quoted a witness as saying that "people armed with revolvers and machetes are in the streets... No-one is safe."
"The situation is serious," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, when questioned about the looting.
"We will not abandon Sint Maarten," he vowed, referring to the island's alternative name in Dutch.
French Overseas Territories Minister Annick Girardin reported that "pillaging took place right in front of us" during a trip she made on Thursday to St Martin, where a majority of the 80,000 inhabitants have lost their homes.
Two men, one them a junior officer in the border police, were arrested overnight as they were stealing boating equipment, police said Friday.
Trump: US is 'prepared at the highest level' to deal with Irma
President Donald Trump says the US is "prepared at the highest level" to deal with Hurricane Irma.
Mr Trump spoke briefly to reporters on Friday before boarding Marine One to travel to Camp David for the weekend. He told reporters, "Hopefully everything will go well."
After struggling to hear the shouted questions from reporters, he says that while the storm is "a really bad one," the US is prepared for the dangerous major hurricane heading toward Florida.
Mr Trump received a briefing on Irma earlier in the day. He is spending the weekend at the government-owned mountain retreat in Maryland where he'll monitor the storm and hold a Cabinet meeting on Saturday.
British response to Hurricane Irma 'found wanting', senior MPs say, as Royal Navy arrives in Caribbean
Britain's response to Hurricane Irma has been "found wanting" and many British territories in the Caribbean are in "grave need", senior MPs have warned, Ben Farmer and Steven Swinford report.
Tom Tugendhat, a Tory MP and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Stephen Twigg, a Labour MP and chairman of the International Development Committee, warned that the UK's response "requires improvement".
In a letter to Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, they say that the arrival of HMS Ocean in a fortnight's time will be "later than any of us would have wished".
They say in the letter: "The devastation caused by Hurricane Irma has been greater than expected. It has left thousands without shelter, power, and the supplies needed to survive. It has also seen many responses tested, and some found wanting."