People walk on ocean floor amid receded waters from Irma

People walk on ocean floor amid receded waters from Irma

Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, has been downgraded to a tropical depression as it advanced through the southeastern United States, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) announced. It was moving north-northwest at about 24 kph. It still is producing hurricane-force wind gusts in excess of 74 miles per hour, however. Rains and storm surge also flooded coastal areas in Georgia and SC.

Irma made a second landfall as a Category 3 storm at Marco Island, a city and barrier island off Florida's southwest coast, on Sunday afternoon.

In the islands of the Florida Keys, the local emergency manager has warned of a looming "humanitarian crisis".

On Saturday, Gov. Henry McMaster reported that eight coastal islands had evacuated smoothly after an evacuation order was issued, and transportation officials say traffic congestion on S.C. interstates had dropped, to 15 percent the normal load.

Editor's note: This is a developing story that is being constantly updated as the storm progresses.

Some 166,000 people in Georgia, including more than 17,000 in the city of Savannah, lost power as the outer bands of the storm lashed the state.

The Florida Keys took a direct hit from Irma at one of the storm's most powerful points.

Georgia and SC have become the latest USA states to be hit by Hurricane Irma, as the storm weakened to a huge, 415-mile wide tropical depression. The unsafe storm surge "will rush in and could kill you".

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Six deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, along with three in Georgia and one in SC.

Irma has devastated Florida, the third most populous US state.

The sheriff's office in Jacksonville, on Florida's northeast coast, reported that it was making a rescue from waist-deep water on Monday morning and urged people to stay off unsafe roads.

Other parts of the South, including Alabama, Tennessee and the Carolinas could be affected by the storm as well in the coming days, as its trajectory moves away from the Florida coast.

The leading edge of the vast storm bent palm trees and spit rain across South Florida, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, as the eye approached Key West.

Brad Whitworth of Texas is riding the storm out in Tavernier, Florida, just south of Key Largo. Hundreds of thousands of people spent the night in emergency shelters.

The Caribbean saw scenes of catastrophic destruction, a preview of what Florida faces as the onslaught brought about by Hurricane Irma continues, as shown in the video below.

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