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BREAKING: Now Hurricane Maria πŸŒͺ threatens North and Central America

Evacuation orders have been issued for parts of Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria heads toward the island. Maria, now a Category 3 hurricane, is forecast to rapidly intensify to a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph as it approaches Puerto Rico late Wednesday morning.

Maria might make landfall on the eastern side of Puerto Rico and could bring major damage to the U.S. territory late Wednesday morning and into the afternoon, two weeks to the day since Hurricane Irma tore through Puerto Rico, killing at least three.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said starting midday Tuesday, conditions will begin to deteriorate and the island could get between 12 and 18 inches of rain. Officials said 450 shelters will be opened starting this afternoon and warned of possible catastrophic damage and a possible collapse of the “vulnerable” electrical system.

“Flood-prone areas must be abandoned," said Public Security Secretary HΓ©ctor Pesquera. "If not, you will die."

The governor said a federal emergency declaration was requested.

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