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article imageSix dead in British Caribbean after Hurricane Irma

By AFP     Sep 9, 2017 in Environment

Six people died in the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla as a result of Hurricane Irma, officials said Saturday as the Caribbean territories braced for another mega storm.

"There have been five confirmed fatalities" in the British Virgin Islands, said a statement from the government of the self-governing British territory of 28,000 inhabitants, without giving further details.

Meanwhile, a police officer in Anguilla told AFP by telephone that a man had been crushed by his house.

"We had one person killed in the hurricane. His house fell on him, he was an elderly man," said Sherrie Brooks, an officer with the Royal Anguilla Police Force.

Authorities on the island have been racing to clean up the devastation before the expected arrival later on Saturday of a second mega storm, Hurricane Jose.

"We're praying for no kind of disaster, we just don't need it, we cannot deal with that right now," Brooks said.

She said Irma had destroyed the island's power station and blown off part of the roof of its only hospital, as well as hitting the airport and harbour.

"We try to get rid of most of the debris, seeing as we're going to be facing Jose in a few hours," Brooks said.

"We want to get rid of the galvanised (steel) so they wouldn't be flying in the air and causing damage."

The 44-year-old said the storm was "the worst we've ever had" in her lifetime.

"We're accustomed to getting hurricanes, so we know how to provide. We've got biscuits, we've got canned foods, and you just stock up the house as much as you can," she said.

- Looting fears -

Many houses on the island were made of concrete and were "pretty strong -- the most damage we'll get is water", Brooks said.

"But we do need help when it comes to cleaning up," she said. When asked if any had come, she said: "Not yet, hopefully soon."

Britain has sent four flights of aid to its overseas territories in the Caribbean, carrying royal marines and engineers, medical supplies, emergency shelter kits, rations and clean water.

The US Virgin Islands have the only usable runway in the region, but a British military ship, Mounts Bay, has brought help to parts of Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands, officials said.

London's Metropolitan Police announced Saturday it was sending 17 officers to the BVI to support police there and "help to reassure local people".

After Irma hit, BVI governor Gus Jaspert declared a state of emergency and he has since imposed an overnight curfew in a bid to tackle looting.

"We have challenges with security, particularly as it relates to looting," the BVI's Department of Disaster Management said in a statement on Facebook on Saturday.

"I'm appealing to the good and decency of residents in the BVI to respect the rule of law and persons' property."

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