Email address set up for loved ones to check on those in Puerto Rico

The 5 p.m. update on the Cat. 3 hurricane.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Latest on Hurricane Maria (all times local):

FRIDAY

11 p.m.: Maria is not weakening as it heads off the U.S. coast. As of 11 p.m., it had top winds of 125 mph and was heading north-northwest at 9 mph. Forecasters don't expect any changes in intensity on Saturday, but gradual weakening is expected on Sunday.

8 p.m.: Maria remains a Cat 3 storm with 125 mph winds as it heads away from the Bahamas.  According to the 8 p.m. update, it is moving north-northwest at 9 mph.

5 p.m.: To check on loved ones in Puerto Rico, send an email to Maria1@PRFAA.PR.gov.

According to the 5 p.m. update, Maria is still a Cat 3 storm with 125 mph winds. It is passing east of the southeastern Bahamas.

11 a.m. Hurricane Maria is now churning northeast of the Turks and Caicos Islands with top sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph).

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the core of the major Category 3 hurricane is now about 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of Grand Turk Island. It's moving to the northwest at 8 mph (13 kph).

A hurricane warning continues in effect for the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as the Southeastern Bahamas. The storm is expected to turn toward the north and northwest later Friday and head northeast and east of the Bahamas through Sunday. Maria is also expected to begin to gradually weaken over the next 48 hours.   

10:50 a.m. Civil Defense officials a man has died in the north of the Dominican Republic when the ground gave way and his roof collapsed in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria's heavy rains.

Antonio Miranda, 32, died Thursday night in the rural community of San Victor, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of the capital, said Antonio Sanchez, a regional Civil Defense chief.

Civil Defense officials say the storm has triggered flooding in several areas in the north and east of that country and that some 16,000 people have been evacuated. Authorities say at least 15 houses have been destroyed and communications are cut to about 25 communities after rivers overflowed their banks from the heavy rains. Many are using buckets trying to remove mud and debris that has washed into homes in the flooding.

10:30 a.m. Puerto Rican officials say at least six people have died in connection with Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety Secretary Héctor M. Pesquera said Friday that authorities were aware of "other potential fatalities" but have not been able to confirm them.

 

The six casualties occurred in three municipalities. In Utuado three people died in landslides. In Toa Baja, two people died as a result of the flooding. And in Bayamón, one person died after being struck by a panel.

6:05 a.m. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the eye of Hurricane Maria is near the Turks and Caicos islands while rains and dangerous high waves are starting to subside along the northern coast of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

As of 5 a.m. EDT, the storm was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east-northeast of Grand Turk Island and is moving northwest at 7 mph (11 kph).

The Category 3 hurricane has maximum sustained winds near 125 mph (205 kph) but gradual weakening is expected during the next two days.

The hurricane has ravaged Puerto Rico and people there face the prospect of going weeks and perhaps months without electricity.        

4 a.m. The eye of Hurricane Maria is nearing the Turks and Caicos early Friday as Puerto Rico tries to recover from the storm's devastation.

Two days after Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, flooding towns, crushing homes and killing at least two people, millions on the island face the dispiriting prospect of weeks and perhaps months without electricity. The storm knocked out the entire grid across the U.S. territory of 3.4 million, leaving many without power.

The loss of power has left residents hunting for gas canisters for cooking, collecting rainwater or steeling themselves mentally for the hardships to come in the tropical heat. Some have contemplated leaving the island.

THURSDAY

11 p.m. Cat. 3 Maria's winds remain at 125 mph as it continues to drift toward Turks and Caicos at 8 mph. The north coast of Hispaniola is seeing torrential rains and dangerous high waves. Pressure is at 955 mb.

8 p.m. Cat. 3 Maria's winds are now at 125 mph as it heads closer to the Turks and Caicos Islands. It continues to the northwest at 9 mph.

5 p.m. Cat. 3 Maria is holding at 120 mph winds as it heads to the northwest at 9 mph. Tropical storm conditions are starting to be felt in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The storm is 90 miles northeast of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

2 p.m. Maria continues to regain strength, now carrying 120 mph winds. It is 85 miles east-northeast of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Central pressure is 960 mb as it moves towards the Turks and Caicos Islands.

11 a.m. Hurricane Maria remained a Category 3 storm with winds at 115 mph.

It is about 105 miles east-northeast of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, as of the 11 a.m., Sept. 21 update from the National Hurricane Center.

Maria is heading toward the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Heavy rainfall and flooding continue in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Maria is also about 190 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island. The storm is moving northwest at about 9 mph.

On the forecast track, the eye of Hurricane Maria will continue to pass offshore of the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic on Thursday.

A turn toward the north-northwest is forecast on Friday.

The minimum central pressure is 960 mb.

8 a.m. Hurricane Maria remained a Category 3 storm with winds at 115 mph.

It is about 95 miles north-northwest of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and about 190 miles southeast of Grand Turk Islands, as of the 8 a.m., Sept. 21 update from the National Hurricane Center.

The minimum central pressure is 959 mb.

Photos: Hurricane Maria bears down on Puerto Rico

5 a.m. Hurricane Maria maintained its major hurricane status as a Category 3 storm.

It has maximum sustained winds of 115 mph.

Maria is about 70 miles north of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, as of the 5 a.m., Sept. 21 update from the National Hurricane Center.

The minimum central pressure is 959 mb.

2 a.m. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria has regained its major hurricane status, rising to a Category 3 storm early Thursday.

An update from the Miami-based center says maximum sustained winds have increased to near 115 mph with higher gusts.

Maria's fierce core was centered about 55 miles (85 kilometers) northeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It will continue to move away from Puerto Rico during the next several hours, and then pass offshore of the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic early Thursday.  Maria should then move near the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas tonight and Friday.

President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in the U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria hit. Trump's action early Thursday makes federal funding available to people on the island of St. Croix.

Editor’s Note: The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Related: At least 9 dead as Hurricane Maria rips through Puerto Rico

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