Video: Dutch defence ministry video shows hurricane Irma devastation

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Film shot by a Dutch navy helicopter crew shows the massive devastation which hurricane Irma has left behind on the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten, which is under Dutch and French rule.

A core team of Dutch ministers met on Thursday morning to discuss the Netherlands’ response to the damage caused by hurricane Irma to the three Dutch Caribbean dependencies: Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius.

Prime minister Mark Rutte has described the damage as of ‘epic proportions’. Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk told reporters on Thursday it is unclear as yet if anyone has been killed on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten, half of which is under French administration.

The death toll in the French part of the island is put at eight.

‘We can’t say anything sensible yet,’ Plasterk said. ‘The damage is terrible but as yet we do not know.’

According to the defence ministry, which flew a helicopter over the Dutch islands in the early hours of the morning, the damage has been limited on Saba and Sint Eustatius but that Sint Maarten has been hit hard.

Many trees have been blown down, homes have been left without roofs and the port area is littered with shipping containers which have been blown about.

Eyewitness Paul de Wint, who is editor of the local paper told Curacao radio station Paradise FM that houses, shops and entire petrol stations have been blown away.

‘People are walking around aimlessly,’ he said. ‘They have no house, they don’t know what to do. It is a catastrophe.’

He said there is no more running water and power supplies have also been disrupted, making communication difficult. There has also been some plundering, he said.

The main priority for the Dutch relief effort is to reopen the airport so that supplies can be flown in, lieutenant Egbert Stoel told broadcaster NOS.

The Dutch navy ship Zr Ms. Pelikaan is on it way to the island to help and the Dutch Red Cross has opened an appeal for donations.



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