Irma seen costing more than 1 billion euros in Saint Martin, Saint Barth

Hurricane Irma is driving toward Florida passing the eastern end of Cuba as Hurricane Katia (L) is also seen in this NASA GOES satellite image taken at 1737 EDT (2137 GMT) on September 8, 2017. Courtesy NASA/Handout via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - The cost of Hurricane Irma, described as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century, is seen costing at least 1.2 billion euros ($1.44 billion) in Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, a French public reinsurance body said on Saturday.

Irma walloped Cuba’s northern coast on Saturday as a Category 5 storm and was expected to hit Florida on Sunday morning, threatening massive damage from wind and flooding to the fourth-largest U.S. state by population.

France’s Caisse Centrale de Reassurance, a state-owned reinsurance group, said Irma would go down as one of the most damaging disasters in decades on French territory.

Saint Barthelemy lies about 35 km southeast of Saint Martin, whose territory is divided between France and the Netherlands.

The French interior ministry said on Saturday that 10 people had been reported dead on the two islands.

Reporting by Matthias Blamont; editing by Jason Neely