Anarchy in the Caribbean amid looting after Hurricane Irma
Escaped prisoners and hundreds of looters armed with guns and knives are terrorising hurricane-hit islands amid anarchy in the Caribbean, it has emerged.
Britain and France have both sent extra police resources and the Netherlands have dispatched troops to the region amid reports of lawlessness in the wake of the devastating 185mph storm.
Terrified tourists on the Dutch-French island of St Martin have described cowering in their hotel rooms amid reports up to 600 looters are running riot. One soldier posted on the island said he was ‘stopping a looter every 10 minutes’.
Sam Branson, the son of Virgin tycoon Richard Branson, whose luxury resort in the British Virgin Islands was destroyed in the storm, warned of ‘civil unrest’ and said prisoners had escaped.
Frightened residents have also complained of looting on the islands of Anguilla, Barbuda and St. Barts after howling 185mph Irma tore through the region.
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French police are pictured chasing looters in St Martin amid reports a gang of 600 thieves are terrorising islanders
UK troops have arrived in the British Virgin Islands as part of Britain’s response to the disaster. They are pictured meeting locals in Road Town on the island of Tortola
Troops are being called in to stop looters armed with guns and machetes on hurricane-ravaged St Martin with food, water and medicine running low, it has emerged. Soldiers from the Netherlands are pictured patrolling the streets on the Dutch side of the island
Wasteland: There have been reports of widespread looting on the island of St Martin which lies in ruins after Hurricane Irma. This was the scene of devastation on the island this morning
Residents have also complained of looting on the islands of Anguilla, Barbuda, the and St. Barts after howling 185mph Irma tore through the region. A woman and two children walk through the debris left by Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands
French police have been sent to St Martin to bolster security as it emerged up to 600 looters are running riot. The officers are pictured on Guadeloupe before heading to the island
On St Martin, there are reports of some residents arming themselves with machetes to stop looters amid a crime wave on the island.
Regional police chief Jean-Marc Descoux said some 500-600 local delinquents were probably responsible for most of the looting, taking advantage of the devastation for personal profit.
The storefronts in the centre of Marigot are testament to the paranoid atmosphere gripping the island. Every shop has its metal shutters drawn. Some show signs of being forced open with crowbars.
On one corner, a clothing shop stands open to the elements, its windows smashed in. The mannequins have been stripped of their clothes; the coathangers are bare.
A soldier posted in the Bellevue commercial district to the south revealed he was stopping a looting every ten minutes.
Jos Smart, 26, and his girlfriend Julia Taylor, 30, were forced to hide in a smashed up hotel room with rats flooding in looking for food
France, Britain and the Netherlands have all sent extra security resources to the Caribbean. French troops are pictured securing the entrance to St Martin’s airport
Terrified tourists stranded on the Dutch-French island St Martin (pictured) say looters have started raiding hotel rooms, homes and shops
One islander said he was ‘stopping a looter every 10 minutes’ amid reports some business owners are arming themselves wit machetes to keep out thieves
Reinforcements: French Navy frigates FS Ventose and FS Germinal have been sent to St. Martin, to bolster relief support and amid reports of widespread looting
Relief materials and supplies have been delivered to St Martin by the French Navy. France has also sent extra police amid reports of looting on the island
Several people who were stranded on the island said looters had begun raiding hotel rooms and homes to profit from the natural disaster.
Jos Smart, 26, and his girlfriend Julia Taylor, 30, reported being too afraid to leave their ‘half-destroyed’ hotel amid reports of looting and violence outside.
Describing the apocalyptic scenes in St Maarten Jos Smart’s father Ian said: ‘They have not had any water for a day. They said the sounds were apocalyptic and they have likened it to a war zone. They are holed up in a half-demolished bathroom and their phone is running out of battery. There have been rats in their room looking for food.
He added: ‘At night time there were people knocking on their door, and so there are 12 hours of sheer blackness to get through with the terror of who is going to knock down the door.’
The son of Virgin billionaire Richard Branson has warned of ‘civil unrest’ in the Caribbean after the devastation of Hurricane Irma as troops were called in to handle looters
Britain has sent a navy ship and almost 500 troops to help people on the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos islands that were pummeled by the hurricane. Troops are pictured meeting locals in the British Virgin Islands
The British government is defending its response to Hurricane Irma amid claims it has been slow to help its overseas territories devastated by the storm. UK troops are pictured on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands
Ruins: The scale of the hurricane’s power can be seen in this aerial picture of a town in the British Virgin Islands
Entire houses were blown apart on the British Virgin Islands while trees were ripped up and power cables brought down
Sam Branson, the son of tycoon Richard Branson, released a video message, warning of lawlessness in the British Virgin Islands. Pictures show the devastation in the area
Luxury yachts are still piled on top of each other in marinas in Road Town, on Tortola – part of the British Virgin Islands. There have been reports of looting in the area
One woman claimed US and British tourists had bee attacked after they became stranded.
Troops were called in on Friday to offset the problem.
Meanwhile, a further 50 British police officers were sent to help deal with looting on the British Virgin Islands, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said, as he pledged to be there ‘in the long-term’ for British residents.
Britain has sent a navy ship and almost 500 troops to help people on the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos islands that were pummeled by the hurricane.
Meanwhile Sam Branson, the son of tycoon Richard Branson, released a video message, warning of lawlessness in the area.
Supplies are pictured stacked up and waiting to be loaded on to a ship in Gibraltar today ahead of a rescue mission to the Caribbean
Crew in Gibraltar prepare to move supplies on to the Royal Navy helicopter carrier HMS Ocean before she crosses the Atlantic to provide humanitarian assistance and vital aid to British Overseas Territories and Commonwealth partners affected by Hurricane Irma
Britain has faced criticism that it has been slow to help its nationals caught up in the disaster – including in the British Virgin Islands, where five people were killed. But Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called the criticism ‘completely unjustified’. Military personnel are pictured loading a ship with supplies ahead of a voyage to the Caribbean
A member of the Royal Air Force hangs a British Navy White Ensign on an helicopter on board the amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean at the Naval Base in Gibraltar before leaving to help with the rescue effort in the Caribbean
Ready for action: The Royal Navy helicopter carrier HMS Ocean (pictured today) has been loaded up ahead of being sent to the Caribbean to provide vital supplies to the hurricane-hit region
Response: British troops in Gibraltar take a breather as they help to load up a ship destined for the Caribbean
He said: ‘I’ve been getting some updates on the ground out there on the British Virgin Islands and it’s really sad to say that there is a lot of civil unrest. Unfortunately some of the prisoners have escaped and are now armed.’
‘It’s really important if you are helping and you are trying to send supply boats out to the area that you go and get information on the ground from official channels and ideally you have some security on the boats
‘I don’t want to panic anyone but it’s really important people are aware of the situation there. Some areas are okay, some aren’t. Just get the right information. It’s just incredibly tragic.’
Elsewhere, France, which oversees neighbouring Saint Barthelemy and the other half of St Martin, said the police presence on the two islands had been boosted to close to 500.
The French interior ministry said 11 people suspected of ‘malicious actions’ had been arrested since Friday as television footage showed scenes of chaos on the islands, with streets under water, boats and cars tossed into piles and torn rooftops.
Emergency aid: Humanitarian freight is loaded in French Guyana ahead of being sent to French overseas territories
Several people still stranded on St Martin (pictured) said looters had begun raiding hotel rooms and homes to profit from the natural disaster
A man walks past debris caused by Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas on the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are widespread reports of looting throughout Caribbean islands hit by the hurricane
Massimiliano Napoliello, the manager of a bar in Maho Beach, issued a desperate plea for help on Facebook.
‘The situation in SXM is a HELL! NO WATER NO FOOD NO ELECTRICITY NO COMMUNICATION!!
‘They are completely isolated and there are CRIMINALS carrying GUNS AND KNIVES SHOOTING and looting all over!! NOTHING IS WORKING, THERE ARE NO RULES, THERE IS NO LAW AND NO PROTECTION RIGHT NOW!!’ he said.
At the Simpson Bay Resort and Marina, looters went in to unoccupied rooms to steal TVs, one staff member said on Twitter.
‘A small minority of sxm-er’s were looting our unoccupied rooms until the Dutch military arrived. Not essentials – taking TV’s,’ he said.
The same man said a bank was robbed the next day.
Laura Conroy’s family were stranded on the island and are now awaiting rescue from US military planes.
There were terrifying reports of looting and violence coming out of St Maarten on Friday in the wake of Hurricane Irma
Massimiliano Napoliello, the general manager of Sky Beach, a bar in Maho Beach, shared this desperate plea on Friday
There were snaking queues at the airport as people desperately waited to be taken off the island
They are taking American citizens to the more developed Puerto Rico.
She said that through the intermittent contact she has had with her sister, she learned that looting was a problem. ‘Many US citizens are being attacked and robbed,’ she told DailyMail.com.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned the situation was already ‘serious’ and made worse by communication problems after 185mph Irma laid waste to infrastructure.
Witnesses on the Dutch side of the island say people are roaming the streets armed with ‘revolvers and machetes’ while Rutte said most people are surviving without power and running water.
Extra troops and police are arriving on the southern part of the island, which is shared between France and the Netherlands, and part of their job is to help keep order, officials said.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned the situation was already ‘serious’ and made worse by communication problems after 185mph Irma laid waste to infrastructure. A Dutch soldier keeps watch on the island
Witnesses on the Dutch side of the island say people are roaming the streets armed with ‘revolvers and machetes’ while Rutte said most people are surviving without power and running water. A Dutch Royal Navy officer speaks to a driver at a check point on the island
Up to 95 per cent of the island was destroyed as the hurricane pummeled its shores on Wednesday
Up to 95 per cent of the island was destroyed as the hurricane pummeled its shores on Wednesday.
The badly damaged airport and port have now ‘been opened for military purposes,’ Rutte told reporters, adding ‘we are doing everything possible to get aid to the area.’
He said food, water and security were the priorities on the island, known in Dutch as Sint Maarten.
‘We will not abandon Sint Maarten,’ he said, adding that officials were also sending medicines, tents, tarpaulins and hygiene kits as fast as possible to the Caribbean.
‘The military has two tasks after arriving there. Firstly to ensure that there is food and water, but also to ensure security,’ Rutte said.
Extra troops and police are arriving on the southern part of the island, which is shared between France and the Netherlands, and part of their job is to help keep order, officials said
This was the scene at the island’s world famous international airport after the hurricane had lashed it with ferocious winds
‘There are people on the streets armed with revolvers and machetes,’ one witness told the Dutch newspaper AD on Friday. ‘The situation is very serious. No one is in charge.’
Dutch officials have confirmed that one person was killed on the Dutch part of Saint Martin by the Category Five storm, before it was downgraded early Friday to a four as it barrelled towards Cuba and Florida.
The tiny country, which shares an island with the French territory of St. Martin, has been autonomous since 2010, but remains part of the Dutch commonwealth.
Dramatic aerial pictures show scenes of devastation on a Caribbean island after it was ravaged by the most powerful hurricane the Atlantic has ever seen. At a port area, shipping containers were strewn like children’s building blocks (pictured)
Astonishing images show the scale of the destruction on the island of St. Maarten in the aftermath of a direct hit by Category 5 Hurricane Irma
Massive waves continued to crash into the coastline of the Dutch side of St Martin last night in the aftermath of the storm
Prime Minister Mark Rutte says that most people are surviving on the island without the basic necessities of life.
Power, running water and most communications were knocked out by the powerful storm and looting has been reported by local authorities struggling to keep control of the island.
He said the first plane already has landed at the airport in the capital, Philipsburg, and navy vessels have unloaded vital supplies in a race against time before the next storm arrives.