Hurricane Irma ploughed into Cuba's northern coast on Friday night (8 September), hitting the island with 160mph winds and heavy rain.

The Category 5 storm – the first to hit the island since 1924 – struck the Camaguey Archipelago after around a million people evacuated their homes.

It comes after the hurricane killed at least 21 people as it passed over the eastern Caribbean, leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

As of early Saturday morning, the storm was still making its way across Cuba with the full extent of the damage unclear.

State media reported damage to hospitals, factories and warehouses.

Choppy seas, grey skies, sheets of rain, bending palm trees, huge waves crashing over sea walls and downed power lines filled state-run television's evening news cast, Reuters reported.

"There are really strong gusts of wind. It is pouring off and on, and the lights are out," Anaida Gonzalez, a retired nurse in the Camaguey province, told Reuters.

CNN reporter Patrick Oppmann, who has been live-tweeting about the storm while in Cuba, said the hurricane had given the island "holy hell".

"Water is half way up the 1st floor of house I am in. We should be fine, many others will not," he tweeted early Saturday morning.

With power out in many towns and villages on the island, Oppmann went on to describe watching in the pitch-black darkness as waves "roll down" a street he had walked along just a day before.

He added: "Irma is giving Cuba holy hell right now. Winds keep getting stronger."

Winds were so strong they even broke the country's meteorological equipment, he added.

Meteorologists warned that scenes of far greater devastation were likely to emerge as Irma worked her way along the northern coast westward.

It is then forecast to change direction and head north towards the US state of Florida, where a state of emergency has been called.

US authorities have ordered 5.6m people – more than 25% of Florida's population — to evacuate, with the storm set to hit the state on Sunday morning.

"This is as real as it gets. Nowhere in the Florida Keys will be safe. You still have time to evacuate," the US National Weather Service warned in a tweet.