September 20, 2017 / 3:44 AM / 9 months ago

Hurricane Maria nearing St. Croix in U.S. Virgin Islands- NHC

(Reuters) - The eye of Hurricane Maria will move near or over St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands over the next couple of hours and cross Puerto Rico on Wednesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory.

Hurricane Maria which bore down menacingly on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Tuesday after devastating the tiny island nation of Dominica and Hurricane Jose (top) are both seen in the Atlantic Ocean in this NOAA's GOES East satellite image taken at 21:45 p.m. EDT on September 19, 2017 (0145 UTC, September 20, 2017). Courtesy NASA/NOAA GOES Project/Handout via REUTERS

The category five hurricane, the strongest level on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale, was about 30 miles (45 km) south-southeast of St. Croix with maximum sustained winds of 175 miles per hour (280 km per hour), the NHC said.

“Maria is forecast to remain an extremely dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane as it moves near or over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico,” the Miami-based weather-forecaster said.

Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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