Twice hurricane-hit US territory faced with fresh disaster as flash flood warnings continue.
A dam in Puerto Rico on Friday suffered structural damage, forcing evacuations in the wake of Hurricane Maria, officials said.
“Close to 70,000 is the estimate of people that could be affected in the case of a collapse,” Gov. Ricardo Rossello said during a press conference at the Guajataca Dam, built in the 1920s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “We don’t know the details. It’s time to get people out.”
The evacuations follow a flash flood warning by the National Weather Services for the municipalities of Isabela and Quebradillas, which the agency called “an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation.”
Maria was passing Friday afternoon to the east of the southeastern Bahamas at a speed of 9 miles per hour (14 kmh), with sustained winds of 125 mph (201 kmh), according to the National Hurricane Center.
Maria ravaged Puerto Rico on Wednesday as the strongest storm to hit the U.S. territory in nearly 90 years, leaving all of its 3.5 million residents without power and sending tens of thousands into shelters.
President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for Puerto Rico late Wednesday, mandating much-needed federal assistance for recovery efforts. He said Thursday that the U.S. territory was “absolutely obliterated” by Maria and he planned to visit the island.
Maria is the second devastating storm the U.S. territory has endured this hurricane season after Irma took its toll two weeks ago.