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Hurricane Maria approaching Turks and Caicos as Category 3 storm

Hurricane Maria has continued to strengthen slightly as its large eye approaches the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says data from reconnaissance aircraft showed maximum sustained wind speed increasing Thursday to 125 mph (200 kph), up slightly from 120 mph (195 kph). It remains a Category 3 hurricane.

Hurricane conditions are expected to begin in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas late Thursday or early Friday.

Tropical storm conditions are possible in the central Bahamas beginning late Friday.