Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

French President to visit hurricane Irma-hit territories

French President to visit hurricane Irma-hit territories

Briton Claudia Knight said her partner is carrying a knife for protection on the island of Tortola as "it's turning really nasty", The Guardian reported.

On Monday, France's Representative Council of Black Associations asked the government for a parliamentary inquiry, citing concerns that those who were evacuated were not "necessarily the most in distress".

French authorities said some 1,105 recovery workers were deployed on St. Martin and St. Barts.

French President Emmanuel Macron will leave for St Martin late Monday to meet victims and confer with local officials, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said.

Johnson is due to visit the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla, which have also suffered widespread devastation.

Willem-Alexander was scheduled to fly Tuesday to the nearby Dutch islands of Saba and St. Eustatius, which also were hit by Irma, but were less badly damaged than St. Martin.

He said he had little information on what to do and "no information or addresses" for those rendered homeless.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was expected to arrive in the United Kingdom overseas territory of Anguilla on Tuesday to offer his support to islanders there, Barbuda and the British Virgin islands, all of which suffered major devastation in the storm.

One Dutch holidaymaker told the tabloid Telegraaf daily though that he and about 50 guests had barricaded themselves into their hotel in the town of Philipsburg, claiming there were armed gangs on the streets.

So he used his own money to charter boats to ferry people to safety. At least five people died in the British territories.

"The problem now is there's no supplies", one woman told CNN at San Juan airport in Puerto Rico, where evacuees were being taken. "You could put all the people back in Barbuda today. but then you'll have a medical crisis on your hand", Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Fernandez said.

Newlywed Frances Bradley-Villier said all that was left in St. Martin was "devastation".

"I've seen proper war as well as natural disasters before, but I've never seen anything like this", he told Dutch radio on Tuesday. "I can't even come up with the right words to explain the emotion, the anxiety, just not knowing, the fear", she said.

It's common practice for tourists to be evacuated first from disaster zones for practical reasons, as they are staying in hotels and not in their homes and tend to have fewer resources such as food and vehicles. "I actually had two persons try to break into my house at night the day before yesterday and I had to scare them off", he said.

Johnson's visit comes after billionaire Richard Branson - who rode out the storm on his private island in the British Virgin Islands - called for a "Marshall Plan" to help the Caribbean recover.

Mr. Macron said the government would boost the number of reinforcements of police and soldiers to 3,000 to maintain law and order on the French side of St. Martin, where looting has been rampant since the storm hit.

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