Hurricane Irma has caused major flooding and damage to buildings on several Caribbean islands, France says.
The four “most solid” buildings on the island of Saint Martin have been destroyed, French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb announced.
There was still no news of casualties and more damage was possible, he said.
The category five hurricane, the highest possible level, has sustained wind speeds reaching 300km/h (185mph) as it sweeps through the Caribbean.
The most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade first hit Antigua and Barbuda, before moving on to Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy – both French overseas territories.
It is then expected to move on towards Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. In the US, Florida’s Key West area has ordered a mandatory evacuation.
Saint Martin is divided between France and the Netherlands, and Saint Barthélemy is also a French territory.
The French government said earlier it was worried about thousands of people who had refused to seek shelter on the islands.
In a statement, the interior minister said France was sending three emergency teams to the islands, two from France and one from Guadeloupe.
“The winds are going to turn in their other direction and there’s a risk of further damage,” Mr Collomb said. (BBC)