Hurricane Maria back to Category 3 strength

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The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria has regained its major hurricane status, rising to a Category 3 storm early Thursday.

An update from the Miami-based center says maximum sustained winds have increased to 120 mph with higher gusts. More strengthening is expected as it moves away from the cooler wake left behind by Irma.

Maria's wide eye was centered about 135 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island. It should move near the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas tonight and Friday.

President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in the U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria hit. Trump's action early Thursday makes federal funding available to people on the island of St. Croix.

LINK: Track Maria on

Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard says a woman and two children were rescued from a boat that went missing off Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria, but a man died aboard the vessel.

The Coast Guard in Miami said in a statement that a British Royal Navy helicopter hoisted three people Wednesday night from the capsized vessel. It had sent a distress call Wednesday saying it was disabled and adrift in seas with 20-foot waves and 100 mph winds near Vieques, Puerto Rico.

The Coast Guard says the man's body was not retrieved and that the boat capsized.

The search included an HC-130 search plane, a fast response cutter, the USS Kearsage amphibious assault ship and Navy helicopters.

The names of those on the vessel were not released.