Macron visits French Caribbean islands hit by Irma

Elias Hubbard
September 13, 2017

Looting, gunshots and a lack of clean drinking water were reported on the French Caribbean territory of St. Martin, home to five-star resorts and a multimillion estate owned by President Donald Trump. The government did not release details about the victims.

About 1,900 French police and troops are now on the ground to ensure security in St. Martin and power has been restored in about 50 per cent of its homes, the French president said.

Earlier, the Dutch military evacuated residents from the island, including children, back to the Netherlands. Some felt the French government spend more efforts rescuing white tourists than black or mixed-race islanders. "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.

Macron's visit to the islands of St Martin and St Barts comes nearly a week since Hurricane Irma roared over the region as a maximum Category Five storm, leaving at least 10 dead on French territory and a wide trail of destruction.

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.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander arrived on St. Martin on Monday and said the scenes of devastation were the worst he has ever seen.

As Macron heads to St. Martin, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced France was now working on delivering water to affected neighborhoods across the island. St. Martin is an island shared between a French territory and the former Dutch colony of St. Maarten, a largely autonomous part of the Dutch kingdom with a population of around 40,000.

"I've never experienced a hurricane before in my life".

Almost a week after the unprecedented Category 5 hurricane first made landfall, the reopening of ports and improved weather meant aid was beginning to reach some of the islands wrecked by the storm as thousands of British holidaymakers awaited evacuation from some of the worst-hit areas. St. Thomas and St. John sustained substantial damage.

The Government has repeatedly defended the speed of its response to the disaster, despite claims it was slow to react and has done too little to facilitate the evacuation of Britons trapped on some holiday islands.

It leveled Barbuda and destroyed an estimated 90 percent of the buildings on the small island, made the Dutch side of St. Martin uninhabitable, with no electricity or drinking water and caused massive destruction to the French side of the island, Saint-Martin, and to St. Barts.

Seven people died in Havana, the capital, mainly from building collapses, the broadcaster reported.

"Everybody should benefit from that money", he told reporters after a Cabinet meeting called to discuss the fallout from Irma.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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