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article imageIrma death toll in Dutch St Martin climbs to four: PM

By AFP     Sep 10, 2017 in World

Four people are now known to have died when Hurricane Irma barrelled over the Dutch part of the Caribbean island of St Martin, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Sunday.

"Unfortunately, there were two more victims that we did not know about earlier," Rutte told reporters in The Hague.

"So the number of victims has risen to four," he said, after Irma devastated the island, shared with France, on Wednesday. The identity of the two new victims was not known.

After new crisis talks with his cabinet, Rutte said fortunately there had been "no new damage" caused by Hurricane Jose which whipped past the island known in Dutch as Sint Maarten late Saturday.

With the arrival of more Dutch troops and police "the security situation has improved but is still fragile," he added.

On Saturday, Rutte issued a stern warning that security forces would crack down on looters.

By the end of Sunday, a total of 392 Dutch troops were to have been deployed on the devastated tourist hotspot where 70 percent of homes have been destroyed or badly damaged.

Another 44 soldiers will arrive on Monday, and 120 more will be deployed from The Netherlands to the stricken Caribbean island. That would bring the total number of security personnel to 550.

Two C-130 transport planes loaded with aid including food, water, tents and building materials landed in Sint Maarten on Sunday, and the Dutch Navy said mass distribution would begin on Monday.

Once all Dutch tourists have been evacuated, Rutte said the "highest priority is to evacuate people who don't live permanently there, students and temporary workers."

Dutch King Willem-Alexander was due to land later Sunday in Curacao from where the Dutch aid operation is being coordinated.

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