Hurricane Joaquin has battered parts of the Bahamas with heavy rains and winds after it was reclassified up to the second strongest type of storm.
Sustained winds of up to 130mph were reported in parts of the eastern Bahamas, the US National Hurricane Center said.
The NHC says Hurricane Joaquin could affect the US East Coast by October 4, and said it was now an “extremely dangerous” storm.
Emergency teams said there were no reports of casualties in the Bahamas.
Forecasters in the US and the Bahamas are warning that central islands, many of which are low-lying, could see a storm surge of up to 12ft.
“We do not know the impact of 130mph on those areas,” Bahamas PM Perry Christie said.
“We know it’s a horrific kind of experience.”
Images on social media showed water reaching close to the roofs of some homes. The Tribune 242 website said dozens of people were trapped in their homes in the southern Bahamas.
After being classified only as a storm on September 30, Joaquin had become a Category Four hurricane – on a scale of five – by October 1.
The NHC said the storm could strengthen again as it nears the central Bahamas, but it is likely to lose strength as it moves north.
States along the eastern US coast – many of whom have suffered heavy rains in recent days – have warned residents to take precautions.
But the NHC, while warning the path of the hurricane could change, said it was “becoming optimistic that the Carolinas and the mid-Atlantic states will avoid the direct effects from Joaquin”.
Meanwhile, the governors of New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and North and South Carolina declared states of emergency. One person was killed by flash floods in Spartanburg, South Carolina and schools in Charleston will be closed on October 2, local media reported.
Cuba has also issued warnings for four eastern provinces.
A White House spokesman said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was following the progress of Hurricane Joaquin and preparing in case it made landfall in the US.
New Orleans marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with multiple events across the city.
At a memorial service, Mayor Mitch Landrieu recalled how residents had turned to each other for support.
Former President Bill Clinton later spoke at a concert in New Orleans.
Hurricane Katrina killed nearly 2,000 people and displaced one million in 2004. It was the most expensive natural disaster in US history and caused destruction along the Gulf coast.
In New Orleans, the failure of the levee system left about 80% of the city under water.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu led a sombre tribute to the 83 unidentified victims whose bodies lie in mausoleums at the city’s Hurricane Katrina Memorial.
Photo Getty Images
“Though they are unnamed, they are not unclaimed because we claim them,” he said.
“We saved each other,” the mayor added.
“New Orleans will be unbowed and unbroken.”
Residents and community activists also gathered at the levee in the Lower Ninth Ward, where storm waters broke through and flooded the district.
After speeches, a parade took place through the neighbourhood, with some participants in colourful Mardi Gras dress.
Throughout the day, thousands took part in traditional musical parades through the city’s streets.
Former President Bill Clinton later spoke at a free concert at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center.
He said the sheer magnitude of what had been accomplished in rebuilding the city should not be underestimated, but that more work needed to be done so that the lines that divided communities – such as race and wealth – could be erased.
A ceremony was also held at the Superdome arena that housed thousands of displaced people after the storm.
President Barack Obama visited the Lower Ninth Ward on August 27, praising “the extraordinary resilience of this city and its people”.
Although New Orleans has largely recovered from the disaster, some – particularly from the African-American community – feel left behind.
On August 28, former President George W. Bush visited the city. His administration was criticized at the time over its slow response and the issue remains a source of deep resentment in New Orleans.
Typhoon Soudelor has hit south-eastern China prompting the evacuation of thousands of people and leaving millions of homes without power.
The powerful typhoon struck Fujian province late on Saturday night, bringing rains and gale force winds, state media said.
It earlier swept across Taiwan, leaving at least five people dead.
Although it has weakened, typhoon Soudelor is expected to continue moving across the region in the coming hours.
Fujian raised its typhoon alert to the highest level in anticipation of the storm, with at least 163,000 people evacuated to higher ground. There are reports of more evacuations in neighboring Zhejiang.
Rail services and flights have been cancelled in the path of the storm, and schools and offices closed.
Taiwan earlier on Saturday saw winds of more than 142mph, when Soudelor made landfall.
It ripped up trees and tore down billboards, and triggered a landslide in at least one village.
Among the victims were an 8-year-old girl and her mother who were swept out to sea.
A firefighter was reportedly killed after being hit by a drunk driver as he tried to move a fallen tree.
Typhoon Soudelor gradually lost its strength as it crossed the island, but was still packing winds of up to 89mph over the strait between Taiwan and China.
BP is set to receive a record fine of between $3 billion and $5 billion to settle criminal charges related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
It will be the biggest criminal penalty in US history.
The settlement with the Department of Justice involves BP pleading guilty to criminal charges.
It is thought that up to four BP staff will be arrested.
Details of the settlement are expected to be confirmed by the Washington-based Department of Justice later.
Earlier, BP said it was in “advanced discussions” with US agencies about settling criminal and other claims.
BP is set to receive a record fine of between $3 billion and $5 billion to settle criminal charges related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster
BP said that any deal would not include a range of other claims including individual and federal claims for damages under the Clean Water Act, and state claims for economic loss.
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 workers and released millions of barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days.
The settlement is much bigger than the largest previous corporate criminal penalty assessed by the Department of Justice, the $1.2 billion fine imposed on drug maker Pfizer in 2009.
The oil giant has been selling assets worth billions of pounds to raise money to settle all claims. The company is expected to make a final payment of $860 million into the $20 billion Gulf of Mexico compensation fund by the end of the year.
BP has booked provisions of $38.1 billion to cover its liabilities from the incident, but the company has said the final cost remained highly uncertain.
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