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Irma knocks out power for 5.8 million Florida homes

DEVESTATION: Hurricane Irma's trail of destruction

HURRICANE IRMA knocked out power to about 5.8 million homes and businesses in Florida, even as the storm's power waned as it crept up the state's west coast, according to state officials and local electric utilities.

Irma hit Florida on Sunday morning (Sep 10) as a dangerous Category 4 storm, the second highest level on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale. The storm gradually lost strength, weakening to a Category 1 hurricane by Monday morning. At 5 a.m. ET (0900 GMT), Irma was carrying maximum sustained winds of near 75 miles per hour (120 km per hour) the National Hurricane Center said.

According to Reuters, most of the power losses were in Florida, but losses in Georgia, which were at about 90,000 as of 6 a.m. ET (1000 GMT), were expected to increase as the storm moved north.

FPL, the biggest power company in Florida, said more than 3.6 million of its customers were without power by 6 a.m. (1000 GMT Monday). A total of 4.2 million have been affected, with about 570,000 seeing service restored, mostly by automated devices.

Full restoration of power could take weeks in many areas, FPL said, due to expected damage to the company's system. FPL is a unit of Florida energy company NextEra Energy Inc.

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