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'Extremely dangerous' Hurricane Laura makes landfall in Louisiana - with 4m people in its direct path

Hurricane Laura slammed into the southern US state of Louisiana Thursday and the monster category 4 storm prompted warnings of "unsurvivable" ocean surges and evacuation orders for hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said "extremely dangerous" Laura would bring winds of 150 miles per hour and "destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage" to Louisiana and Texas.

"TAKE COVER NOW! Treat these imminent extreme winds as if a tornado was approaching and move immediately to the safe room in your shelter," the NHC said on Twitter. "Take action now to protect your life!"

Satellite images revealed the immense size of the hurricane as it made landfall at around 1:00am (0600 GMT), while television pictures showed heavy rain lashing the coastal city of Lake Charles, and powerful winds uprooting trees.

Earlier the NHC warned Laura could pummel the Louisiana and Texas coasts with an "unsurvivable storm surge" of up to 20 feet, and that tornadoes could form at the southern edges of the weather system.

"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," it said.