Hurricane Irma's eyewall slammed into the lower Florida Keys on Sunday, lashing the island chain with fearsome wind gusts.
The eye of the Category 4 storm was 24 kilometers southeast of Key West, bringing winds up to 130 miles per hour and threatening dangerous storm surges.
"This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation!" the National Weather Service in Key West had said, urging those who had not heeded dire warnings to evacuate to take shelter "now to protect your life!"
The fierce winds of Hurricane Irma regained Category 4 strength with winds of 130 mph early Sunday, as the storm’s eyewall made its first landfall in the lower Florida Keys at about 7 a.m.
The massive storm already has caused hundreds of thousands of power outages across South Florida, its leading edge lashing several major population centers.