AT LEAST 14 people have been killed by Hurricane Irma’s trail of horror and destruction across the Caribbean.

A second hurricane, Jose, could hit Antigua and Barbuda, which suffered major damage when Irma struck. And a third hurricane, Katia is threatening eastern Mexico.

Tropical storms expert Eric Blake, a scientist at the National Hurricane Centre, said the appearance of three strong hurricanes in the Atlantic basin which all threaten land is unparalleled in modern times.

More than one million people have been affected so far by the devastation caused by Irma. The Red Cross is predicting this could rise to 26 million.

The death toll is also expected to rise with the hurricane due to hit Florida this weekend.

Half a million people have been evacuated from the state and around 50,000 tourists have fled Cuba where the Irma expected to strike after pummelling the Turk and Caicos islands.

Winds of up to 185mph have wreaked near total devastation on some of the world’s most beautiful islands, thousands have been made homeless and infrastructure has been ripped apart.

Concerns are now growing that disease will spread rapidly in the hurricane’s wake.

A large-scale evacuation of low- lying, south-eastern coastal areas in the Bahamas has been ordered, with the eye of the storm expected to pass between the islands and the north coast of Cuba before heading for Florida, which is braced for an unprecedented battering.

US forecasters said the hurricane could strike not only the entire Florida coast but move into Carolina and Georgia.

Thousands of tourists have left the Bahamas while Cuba has evacuated thousands more. Those unable to escape have been traumatised by Irma’s power.

The British overseas territory of Anguilla, where it is known that at least one person has died, has been described as looking as if it had been hit by a nuclear bomb. The UK Government has been criticised for its response to the hurricane warnings. The small island of Barbuda is now “barely habitable” with almost all of the buildings damaged. One death has been confirmed and reconstruction is expected to cost at least £80 million according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

Looting has been reported on the Franco-Dutch island of St Martin where at least five people have been killed, with four deaths confirmed on the US Virgin islands as well as widespread damage.

ASTATE of emergency has been declared on the British Virgin islands where fatalities are expected to be confirmed. At least three people have been killed in Puerto Rico with thousands of people unable to return home.

Rising tide levels are now expected to be a problem in the Bahamas.

“The destructive force of a 25ft surge: that is our greatest concern. It can really cause catastrophic results,” said Captain Stephen Russell, of the Bahamas national emergency management agency. Inland areas could even be inundated by the storm surge, according to Virginia Clerveaux, of the Turks and Caicos Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies.

“We are expecting inundation from both rainfall as well as storm surge,” she said. “And we may not be able to come rescue [residents] in a timely manner.”

Florida could be left “uninhabitable for weeks or months” because of the hurricane, the National Weather Service said.

“If you look at the size of this storm, it’s huge,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott. “It’s wider than our entire state and could cause major and life- threatening impacts on both coasts – coast to coast.”

Roads in Florida have been jammed with thousands of people trying to flee before the hurricane hits. With flights at Florida airports suspended, many tourists are stranded and will have to wait out the storm.

In Fort Lauderdale, Erik Petersen, 40, said: “People aren’t just talking about this as a hurricane, they’re talking about it as the hurricane.

“Roads are clogged, hotels are full, gas is running low... I’d rather face this thing in a house in Fort Lauder-dale than in a car in a traffic jam somewhere outside Orlando.”

Gus Jaspert, the Governor of the British Virgin Islands, has said he is “heartbroken” about the devastation. He added that he was worried about the hurricanes that are to follow Irma, particularly Hurricane Jose.

Irma is still considered “extremely dangerous” but has been downgraded to a category 4 hurricane with wind speeds of 155mph. The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands have been warned of “life-threatening” storm surges and winds until today.

“I fear for those person who chose not to evacuate from the islands,” said Russell. “The government has made a very strong appeal to them. But some are simply stubborn. There is very little we can do to assist until Monday or Tuesday. The fear is, that when we go into those areas, we are going to find persons in serious distress and even fatalities.”

He added: “Those who have stayed include troops, police officers and persons who just made up their mind that they are not going to leave their island. That is their choice. The government of the Bahamas made a strong appeal for all of them to leave the island but they made up their minds that they are going to ride out the storm in the islands.”

South and North Carolina and Georgia have been told to expect “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides” from Tuesday.

THE Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, said the hurricane had already “caused wide-scale destruction of infrastructure, houses and businesses”. He added: There is no power, no gasoline, no running water. ‘‘Houses are underwater, cars are floating through the streets, inhabitants are sitting in the dark in ruined houses and are cut off from the outside world.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “grief stricken” and called for an international effort to tackle global warming to prevent other disasters. However the UK Government has been criticised for failing to follow the example of the Netherlands and France in preparing their dependencies for the hurricane’s impact. Fergus Thomas, a member of a humanitarian team sent to the Caribbean to help out, said: “There is quite some justification in that, however, we have had a Navy vessel that has been sheltering just south of Puerto Rico and has now deployed, so within 24 hours we have managed to move some of our military assets to support the survivors and today they were in Anguilla.”

A spokesperson for the Department for International Development (DFID) said: “UK aid is on the move right now to help the people who have suffered utter devastation.

“We are sending shelter kits providing immediate relief to people who have seen their homes destroyed and we arranging flights carrying further urgently needed relief supplies.

“A team of British humanitarian experts were on the ground in advance of the hurricane and they are working with the authorities to direct the humanitarian response. The UK was the first to arrive at Anguilla and today we are doubling DFID’s field presence to get even more help to the people most in need.”