St Martin, St Barts face colossal job of rebuilding in Irma's wake

St Martin, St Barts face colossal job of rebuilding in Irma's wake

St Martin, St Barts face colossal job of rebuilding in Irma's wake

Almost a third of all buildings on the Dutch half of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin were destroyed and more than 90 percent damaged by Hurricane Irma, the Dutch Red Cross said on Tuesday.

He brought with him 10 tonnes of supplies, but there is demand for much more.

Some 70 percent of the infrastructure on the Dutch side, which is known as Sint Maarten, has been destroyed, officials say.

So far, the natural disaster throughout the Caribbean has caused more than two dozen deaths, at least 10 taking place in French territory.

Armed looters on the Caribbean island of St Martin are reported to have been taking advantage of the destruction wrought there by Hurricane Irma. Several U.S. Navy ships were in the islands, ferrying in heavy equipment for a recovery effort led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its local equivalent.

The wild isolation that made St. Barts, St. Martin, Anguilla and the Virgin Islands vacation paradises has turned them into cutoff, chaotic nightmares in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which left 22 people dead, mostly in the Leeward Islands. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Saturday night that France would be sending more Foreign Legion troops, paratroopers and other reinforcements to St. Martin starting Sunday.

At a news conference in the Pointe-a-Pitre airport before departing for St. Martin, Macron said the government's "top priority" was to help island residents return to normal life.

Meanwhile, a mother picking up her daughter, a survivor who flew to Paris on Monday, said with condition of anonymity that government help was non-existent on Saint Martin. He will finish off his trip on the nearby island of St. Barts. The French, British and Dutch governments sent warships, planes and security forces to keep order and deliver aid.

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"It's been very useful to see for myself what bad damage this storm has done and in this way to also show the population of St. Martin and the governor and prime minister that we stand together here as a kingdom and that we will solve this together", he told reporters on the island.

Before the hurricanes, St. Maarten's Princess Juliana International Airport was one of the former Dutch colony's major tourist draws thanks to a runway that ended just a few meters (yards) from the sandy crescent of Maho Beach, where people could stand and watch as arriving jets skimmed low over their heads.

Under pressure to be more responsive, foreign minister Boris Johnson is expected to travel to the region on Tuesday for a visit to the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.

A woman amidst the crowd waiting to be lifted to France said, "We've been here since six in the morning and we're still waiting, under a blazing sun", while another woman asked: "Why are you here?"

There has also been criticism of the Dutch response.

The Foreign Office said in a statement a team of British humanitarian experts has been in the region for a week working with authorities and directing the humanitarian response.

As for the Dutch side, the Dutch Red Cross described it as a "race against time to get the relief to the affected area".

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