10 killed in Cuba by Hurricane Irma

British government defends Hurricane Irma response which was 'as good as anybody else's'

14 September, 2017

More than 100 prisoners escaped when Hurricane Irma hit the British Virgin Islands, Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan has confirmed.

Hundreds of United Kingdom troops and 50 police officers have already been sent to the British Virgin Islands after they were battered by the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.

"We have maintained and kept law and order on the BVI, which at one point, could have dramatically threatened the already unfortunate plight of those who had been hit by the hurricane", he said.

Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are among 14 British overseas territories which are all self-governing but the British government is responsible for their defence and security with a duty to protect them from natural disasters.

DigitalGlobe released images taken over the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, parts of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos, and Great Inagua Island taken September 8-10.

The UK has provided more than 40 tonnes of aid including 2,608 shelter kits and 2,304 solar lanterns.

"We had (landing ship dock) RFA Mounts Bay in position in the region before the hurricane struck - it would have been totally absurd to bring troops in or bring heavy aircraft during the storm itself". "It will go up to 1,250 in the course of the next few days".

The UK was working with the US, France and the Netherlands, making an "international effort", he told BBC's Breakfast.

She said the needs were "unprecedented" but admitted getting kit and people into the region had been challenging.

The Royal Navy's fleet flagship has set sail for the Caribbean loaded with long-term emergency supplies for British territories devastated by the storm. At least five people died in the British territories. Expected to require extensive humanitarian assistance.

Irma, which was expected to cause billions of dollars in damage to the third-most-populous U.S. state, it hit just days after the Houston area was deluged by unprecedented flooding from Hurricane Harvey, which dumped more than 127cm of rain in parts of Texas.

"But I think what I have been amazed by so far, is not so much the impact of the storm, as the resilience and community spirit of those people - coming together to put their islands back on their feet and we are here to help", he added.

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