Friday 29 May, 2020

The Latest: Dutch to send relief supplies to St. Maarten

The Latest on Hurricane Irma (all times local):

7:15 a.m.

The Dutch Ministry of Defense says two military aircraft will fly to the Caribbean island of Curacao on Thursday afternoon loaded with relief supplies and troops to help authorities on former Dutch colony St. Maarten recover from the devastation of Hurricane Irma.

The ministry says the troops being sent to the region "can also be used to restore public order."

Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said earlier Thursday that he could not confirm news reports of looting in Saint Maarten, where a curfew is in force in the aftermath of Wednesday's storm.

The ministry says a KDC-10 and a C-130 Hercules are to fly to Curacao from a military air base in the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven. The Hercules will then be used to ferry supplies to St. Maarten because it should be able to land at the badly damaged Princess Juliana Airport

The planes will carry enough food and water to supply the 40,000-strong population for five days.

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6:50 a.m.

The U.K. government says Hurricane Irma has inflicted "severe and in places critical" damage to the British overseas territory of Anguilla.

Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan says the Caribbean island took the full force of the category 5 hurricane.

He told lawmakers on Thursday that the British Virgin islands have also suffered "severe damage." On another British territory, Monsterrat, the damage is "not as severe as first thought."

Duncan said the hurricane is expected to hit another British overseas territory, Turks and Caicos, later Thursday.

Britain has dispatched a Royal Navy ship carrying marines and army engineers to the affected islands.

Duncan says there are "unconfirmed reports of a number of fatalities" as a result of the hurricane.

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6:45 a.m.

The Dutch prime minister says Category 5 Hurricane Irma was a storm of "epic proportions" when it slammed into the former Dutch colony of Saint Maarten in the Caribbean and is appealing to Dutch citizens to donate to a relief fund set up by the Red Cross.

Speaking Thursday after a meeting of the government's crisis committee, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said there are no reports yet of casualties on the Dutch side of the island. Rutte says the damage is huge, particularly on Saint Maarten, with "widescale destruction of infrastructure, houses and businesses."

He says, "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."

The Dutch military is readying two aircraft to fly to the region to distribute vital aid to the shattered territory, which is home to some 40,000 people. However the airport on the Dutch side of the island is badly damaged.

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