Churches and schools have become homes for people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic for their own safety as Hurricane Irma closes in.

Irma had already claimed the lives of not less than eight people with lots of property destroyed on Wednesday when it struck the islands of Barbuda, St Martin and St Barts.

Christian Aid says some places of worship will not be strong enough to withstand the Category 5 storm, meaning some families must be evacuated to cities.

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Prospéry Raymond at the charity said: "Hurricane Irma is huge and we are very worried about the people in Northern Haiti and the Dominican Republic; particularly vulnerable communities."

World Vision, another Christian charity, said it was "poised" to help 122,000 people in Haiti with food, shelter, health and sanitation supplies.

John Hasse, World Vision's Latin America regional leader, said: "Our teams are poised to respond to everything that Irma has to throw at us.

"The threat of destruction is very real. Last year, I was in Haiti when Hurricane Matthew hit. Bridges were swept away and lives were lost."

Linking the disaster to climate change, Christian Aid fears a rise in temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean have made Hurricane Irma more powerful.

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