The Island of Barbuda left ‘a rubble’ by Hurricane Irma as President says 90 per cent of buildings destroyed
An emotional President Gaston Browne confirmed the devastating news after flying over the island in a helicopter
The Caribbean island of Barbuda has been almost entirely wiped out by Hurricane Irma, with “90 per cent” of all buildings destroyed.
The devastating news was confirmed by an emotional President Gaston Browne to local TV and radio station ABS.
“It is a total devastation – Barbuda now is literally a rubble,” he said.
He also confirmed that tragically a child died after her mother tried to escape a damaged home.
Miraculously, this is believed to be the only death on an island with a population of around 1,600.
Just hours earlier, Mr Browne had put out a statement saying neighbouring island Antigua had “weathered the most powerful hurricane ever to storm its way through the Caribbean”.
He said no lives had been lost, infrastructure had “stood up” and that “our country can resume normal life within hours”.
But Mr Browne had not visited or heard from Barbuda, which lies less than 40 miles north, at this point.
And it appears Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm with 185mph winds, has caused far more destruction.
President Browne told ABS News: “The entire housing stock is damaged.”
“The cost to repair the infrastructure will be no less than 150 million dollars.
“Barbuda is barely habitable.
“At least 60 per cent of people are homeless, even where they are sheltering they are in damaged homes.”
Meanwhile, a similar trail of devastation was discovered on the island of Saint Martin after Irma barreled through.
Homes, hotels and government buildings have been reduced to rubble.
Usually offering a paradise getaway for sun-seeking tourists, footage from the island shows flooded roads and broken structures.
A witness caught up in the carnage filmed this shocking scene from a high-rise balcony.
The clip shows cars almost completely submerged in the flood water and piles of wreckage strewn in the streets.
Despite being first hit by the 185mph winds and category 5 hurricane, rain and powerful winds continue to batter the already shattered island.
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said government buildings, the sturdiest on the island, have also been wrecked by Irma’s incredible force.
He said: “We know that the four most solid buildings on the island have been destroyed which means that more rustic structures have probably been completely or partially destroyed.”
The island has been without electricity since 6am this morning and police have reported several roofs have been torn off buildings during the storm.
Irma also slammed into the Caribbean island of St Bartélemy and the larger island of Guadeloupe.
France has requisitioned planes and sent in emergency food and water rations.
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Footage from the island shows the force of the winds as Irma continues to destroy the island.
Wreckage and trees can be seen ripping through streets as sheets of torrential rain also continue to fall.
The regional authority for Guadeloupe and neighbouring islands said that the fire station in Saint Barthelemy is under 3ft of water and no rescue vehicles can move.
It said the government headquarters in Saint Martin have been partially destroyed and the island is in a total blackout.
Electricity is also partially down on the larger island of Guadeloupe, where the threat receded despite danger of heavy flooding.
French minister for overseas territories Annick Girardin expressed fear “for a certain number of our compatriots who unfortunately didn’t want to listen to the protection measures and go to more secure sites”.
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She added: “We’re preparing for the worst.”
The hurricane has become the most powerful ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean and could potentially hit The British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and potentially Florida by the end of the week.
Caribbean island residents stocked up on provisions as the government urged them to take shelter and brace for the impact of Irma.
A Brit who was trapped in a stairwell as Hurricane Irma smashed into the Caribbean has described the “apocalyptic” scenes that unfolded around him.
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Londoner Alex Woolfall started tweeting at 4.30 am local time as the category 5 storm swept towards the beautiful island of Saint Maarten.
He described the “building shaking and howling winds” as Irma approached in the early hours of the morning.
Less than an hour later he was evacuated to a “concrete stairwell” while 185 mph winds raged around his hotel.
Alex, who work in PR, wrote: “Okay I am now pretty terrified so can every non-believer, atheist & heretic please pray for me in Saint Maarten as Irma is here now.
“My God this noise! It’s like standing behind a jet engine!! Constant booms & bangs. At least concrete stairwell not moving.”
He added: “Noise now apocalyptic. This is like a movie I never want to see.”