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  • A woman tries to walks out from her house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico.

    A woman tries to walks out from her house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 September 2017

The dam failure comes after Hurricane Maria has left the island devastated.

At least 35 people are now known to have died as Hurricane Maria ripped through the Caribbean.

Local media in Puerto Rico reported that 15 people were killed there, while on the island of Dominica, the Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said another 15 had lost their lives on the island and 20 others are missing. Two more died in the Dominican Republic as well as another two in Guadeloupe, along with three in Haiti.

Among the victims in Puerto Rico are eight people who drowned in Toa Baja, 32 miles west the capital San Juan reported the local mayor Bernardo Marquez. More than 4,000 people were rescued from flooded areas.

In another development, the island's Guajataca dam has failed causing "extremely dangerous" flooding, the National Weather Service, NWS, reported, adding that two nearby municipalities are being evacuated en masse. 

Hurricane Maria Hits Dominican Republic, Killing 2

The dam failure, occuring in the wake of Hurricane Maria, began at 2:10 p.m. local time in northwest Puerto Rico. Residents from the Isabela and Quebradillas municipalities, home to some 70, 000 people, are now being bussed out of the area as water levels continue to rise.

“This is an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SITUATION. Buses are currently evacuating people from the area as quickly as they can,” the NWS tweeted.

“All Areas surrounding the Guajataca River should evacuate NOW. Their lives are in DANGER! Please SHARE!” they added in a later message.

“It’s a structural failure. I don’t have any more details,” Governor Ricardo Rossello told media from the island’s capital, San Juan. “We’re trying to evacuate as many people as possible.”

The dam failure comes after Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico devastated, and possibly without power for months, according to Rossello.

Maria has been the second major storm to the Carribbean in as many weeks, after Hurricane Irma, and the strongest to hit Puerto Rico in almost 90 years.

After pummeling the Caribbean, Maria weakened but has reintensified.

Now a Category 3, it's bringing tropical storm conditions to the Turks and Caicos islands.

The Dominican Republic will continue to experience hurricane strength winds through Thursday evening.

The storm is expected to move closer to the Bahamas by Sunday.

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