THE DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs and Trade has warned Irish citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to the souther Bahamas for the next few days.
The warning comes as Hurricane Irene approaches the islands, set to bring heavy rains and winds of over 100mph to the islands in the coming two days.
Travel warnings had already been issued for the south-eastern and north-western areas of the Bahamas.
The Department said Irish citizens were strongly advised against any sea travel during this time, and asked intended travellers to check the websites of the US’s National Hurricane Center and Bahamas Hurricane Preparation for more information.
Irish citizens already in the area are asked to monitor local news and weather reports, follow the advice of local authorities, and contact their travel agencies if appropriate.
Citizens in the area who require consular assistance should contact the Irish Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, which is accredited to the Bahamas.
The Hurricane has strengthened to a major Category 3 storm as it advances towards North America, with wind speeds currently peaking at 115mph.
Irene is currently around 325 miles off the coast of the Bahamas, moving north-west towards the islands at around 9 mph.
Test evacuations are currently being carried out on a tiny barrier island off the coast of North Carolina, hoping to ascertain whether people will heed official orders to get out of the way of the storm.
Irene would be the first serious hurricane in years to hit the east coast of the US.