Sat, Sep 09, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Irma heads to Florida as death toll climbs to 11


A photograph provided by the Dutch Ministry of Defense on Thursday shows houses and cars damaged on the island of Saint Martin after the passage of Hurricane Irma.

Photo: AFP / Dutch Defense Ministry / Gerben Van Es

Hurricane Irma yesterday battered the Turks and Caicos Islands as the fearsome Category 5 storm continued a rampage through the Caribbean that has killed at least 11 people, with Florida in its sights.

Waves as high as 6m were expected in the Turks and Caicos. Communications went down as the storm slammed into the islands and the extent of the devastation was unclear.

The first hurricane warnings were issued for parts of southern Florida as the state braced for what could be a catastrophic hit over the weekend. Following in Irma’s wake was Hurricane Jose, with some of the islands hit hardest by Irma in its expected path.

French, British and Dutch military authorities rushed aid to a devastated string of Caribbean islands where at least 11 people were dead and thousands homeless.

Warships and planes were sent with food, water and troops after the hurricane smashed homes, schools and roads, laying waste to some of the world’s most beautiful and exclusive tourist destinations.

The first islands hit by the storm were scenes of terrible destruction.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Thursday said that four people were confirmed dead and about 50 injured on the French side of Saint Martin, an island split between Dutch and French control, where homes were splintered and road signs scattered by the fierce winds.

The cafes and clothing shops of the picturesque seaside village of Marigot were submerged in brown floodwater.

The toll could rise because rescue teams had yet to get a complete look at the damage.

The US Consulate General in Curacao said it believes about 6,000 Americans are stranded on Saint Martin. It said it was working with the US and other governments to try to figure out how to get the Americans off the island either by air or boat.

Frantic Americans were calling home to relatives to try to get them off the island ahead of Hurricane Jose.

At least four people were killed in the US Virgin Islands and officials said they expected to find more bodies. Authorities described the damage as catastrophic and said crews were struggling to reopen roads and restore power.

Three more deaths were reported on the British island of Anguilla, as well as Barbuda and the Dutch side of Saint Martin.

Irma also slammed the French island of Saint Barts, tearing off roofs and knocking out electricity in the high-end tourist destination.

French Minister of the Interior Gerard Collomb said 100,000 food rations were sent to Saint Barts and Saint Martin, the equivalent of four days of supplies.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the storm “caused widescale destruction of infrastructure, houses and businesses.”

“There is no power, no gasoline, no running water. Houses are under water, cars are floating through the streets, inhabitants are sitting in the dark in ruined houses and are cut off from the outside world,” he said.

The hurricane was passing just north of Great Inagua Island early yesterday after sweeping Haiti and the Dominican Republic with high winds and rain, while battering the Turks and Caicos Islands on its other side.

Big waves smashed a dozen homes into rubble in the Dominican fishing community of Nagua, but work crews said all the residents had left before the storm.

Officials said 11,200 people in all had evacuated vulnerable areas, while 55,000 soldiers had been deployed to help the cleanup.

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