Irma: International efforts in the Caribbean

2017-09-11 21:57
Two men put hurricane shutters on a business in Miami as they prepare for Hurricane Irma. (Joe Raedle, Getty Images via AFP)

Two men put hurricane shutters on a business in Miami as they prepare for Hurricane Irma. (Joe Raedle, Getty Images via AFP)

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WATCH: Natural disasters devastate the Americas

2017-09-11 15:05

Hurricane Irma gave Florida a coast-to-coast pummelling with winds up to 200km/h on Sunday, while rescuers raced to assist survivors of Mexico's most powerful earthquake. Watch.WATCH

London - Britain, France, the Netherlands and the United States have ramped up relief efforts for their territories in the Caribbean after the passage of Hurricane Irma last week left devastation in its wake.

There has been some criticism of the response, particularly in British overseas territories.

Here's a snapshot of international assistance so far:



Britain has pledged $42m in assistance and sent 10 flights of aid since Friday to its affected Caribbean territories, the British Virgin Islands and the Anguilla archipelago, with six people killed in the storm.

The flights have carried medical supplies, emergency shelter kits, rations and clean water to affected islands, as well as engineers and military personnel.

Almost 700 British troops have been deployed and 17 officers from London's Metropolitan Police have also been sent following reports of looting.

The RFA Mounts Bay, a Royal Navy ship which was in the region when the mega-storm hit, has been deployed.

A second warship, HMS Ocean, is being loaded with disaster relief stores in Gibraltar before it sets off for the region as expected on Tuesday.

But Britain's response to Irma has been criticised by some local inhabitants as too slow and some Britons have voiced frustration over Britain's failure to evacuate their loved ones from the area.

Foreign Minister Boris Johnson has rejected the criticism, calling it "completely unjustified".

"I am confident we are doing everything we possible can to help British nationals," Johnson told the BBC.



France said 10 people died on St Barts and on its side of St Martin island, a joint French-Dutch territory where Irma left most of the 80 000 inhabitants homeless.

French aid includes helicopters, engineering equipment, medical supplies and a million litres of water, as the three water-treatment plants on the island will be knocked out for months.

The French defence ministry also announced that a military ship, to leave France on Tuesday, would carry an additional four helicopters, 1 000 tons of supplies and be used as a "floating hospital".

About 1 500 people have been deployed so far including emergency personnel, troops and police officers.

Evacuations started in earnest again on Sunday after the Grand-Case airport on St Martin was reopened.

The French energy group EDF said it would send 140 tons of electrical equipment including generators and pumps from nearby Guadeloupe as soon as conditions permit.

French President Emmanuel Macron is due to travel to St Martin later on Monday.

Opposition figures have accused Macron's fledgling government of bungling the response to the disaster, with radical left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon calling for a parliamentary inquiry.



The Dutch defence ministry had stationed two naval vessels in the area before the storm, carrying a helicopter and supplies.

Four people have lost their lives on the Dutch side of St Martin, known as Sint Maarten.

So far four military flights loaded with troops and aid - including food, water, medicines and medical equipment -have been sent.

The Red Cross has also sent a plane with 60 ton of aid on board in collaboration with French-Dutch carrier Air France-KLM.

The first wounded and sick were evacuated by helicopter off Sint Maarten late on Friday.

Tourists have also begun to be evacuated by both the major travel company TUI, which operates its own planes, and the Dutch military.

Mass distribution of food and water was due to start on Monday in Sint Maarten and desalination equipment and purification tablets were also on their way.

A 59-strong search and rescue team composed of doctors, rescue personnel and emergency workers, was also dispatched on Monday to Sint Maarten.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander arrived on Sunday in Curacao, another Dutch Caribbean island, to view the aid operation and was to travel to Sint Maarten on Monday, Dutch media reported.

There has been some criticism that the government has not moved fast enough.

"They reacted far too late. The French were much quicker on St Martin to evacuate people," Kitty Algra, a tourist, told the Dutch AD newspaper.


United States 

The US military has evacuated US citizens from St Martin to Puerto Rico. The US estimates that 2 000 to 3 000 US citizens still need to leave the affected areas.

US amphibious assault ships have also been assisting residents of the US Virgin Islands, where four people were killed by the storm.

Washington on Friday said that about 14 000 National Guard personnel were being mobilised in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the US state of Florida.

Read more on:    us  |  uk  |  france  |  netherlands  |  weather  |  hurricanes

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