Hurricane Irma approaches Florida as 5.6 million told to ‘go now’

The governor of Florida urges people “not risk your life or the lives of your loved ones”, as the “catastrophic storm” approaches.

The Miami skyline is seen in the background as men fish ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irma in Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
President Trump has warned of ‘absolutely historic destructive potential’

Around 5.6 million Florida residents have been ordered to evacuate the state as Hurricane Irma gets closer.

The category five storm has already moved through theĀ Caribbean and the British Virgin Islands, killing at least 22 people and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

The deadly hurricane carries winds of up to 155mph and could travel from one end of Florida to the other when it is expected to hit near Key West early on Sunday.

Its path could also take in Georgia and South Carolina.

MIAMI BEACH, FL - SEPTEMBER 08: Dario Perdomo and Alejandra Valde (L-R) take a Lyft ride to a shelter as they evacuate their condos before the arrival of Hurricane Irma on September 8, 2017 in Miami Beach, Florida. Florida appears to be in the path of the Hurricane which may come ashore at category 4. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Irma’s path could also take in Georgia and South Carolina

Forecasters adjusted the storm’s potential path more toward the west coast of Florida, away from the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people, meaning “a less costly, a less deadly storm,” University of Miami researcher Brian McNoldy said.

LIVE: ‘Go now’, Florida governor says as Hurricane Irma approaches

However, they warned that the strong winds were so wide they could reach from coast to coast.

“This is a storm that will kill you if you don’t get out of the way,” National Hurricane Centre meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said.

Robert Johnson fills gas containers at a gas station in Miami, Florida on September 8, 2017, ahead of Hurricane Irma. Florida Governor Rick Scott warned that all of the state's 20 million inhabitants should be prepared to evacuate as Hurricane Irma bears down for a direct hit on the southern US state. / AFP PHOTO / Gaston De Cardenas (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
People filled up their tanks to make their journey to safety

“Everybody’s going to feel this one.”

As residents tried to evacuate in their droves, motorways became gridlocked and petrol stations were inundated.

Manny Zuniga was on the road for 12 hours trying to reach Orlando from his home in Miami – a journey which usually takes four hours.

“We’re getting out of this state… Irma is going to take all of Florida,” he said.

More than a quarter of the state’s population was ordered to leave, one of the largest-scale evacuations in its history.

Experts say Hurricane Irma could be the most serious test of Florida’s storm endurance since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which damaged 125,000 homes and killed 40 people.

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