SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis says his government has ordered a mandatory evacuation of islands in the southern part of the island chain because of Hurricane Irma.

Minnis says the Category 5 storm poses a dire threat to the islands of Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island.

People who live on the islands will be flown Wednesday to Nassau on the island of New Providence. Minnis says it will be the largest hurricane evacuation in the history of the Bahamas.

People who don’t evacuate will be at “great danger” from storm surge caused by what he called a “monster” hurricane. Minnis says emergency personnel may not be available to rescue them when the storm is at its height between Thursday and Friday.

President Donald Trump has declared emergencies in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Hurricane Irma prepares for landfall.

The declarations authorize the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in those places.

The dangerous Category 5 storm is wielding the most powerful winds ever recorded for a storm in the Atlantic Ocean. It is on a path that could take it toward Florida over the weekend.

Irma’s size and strength put the entire state on notice Tuesday. Residents and visitors prepared to leave in anticipation of catastrophic winds and floods.

Puerto Rico’s governor is also warning that the effects of Hurricane Irma could be catastrophic and calling the storm more dangerous than Hurricane Harvey.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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