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Hurricane Irma

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Irma's damage to French territories estimated at €1.2bn

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A picture released on the Facebook account of Kevin Barrallon on September 7, 2017 shows wreckages in a street of Gustavia on the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Barthelemy in the Caribbean following hurricane Irma. Kevin Barrallon / FACEBOOK / AFP

Monster storm Irma has wreaked an estimated 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) worth of damage in the Caribbean territories of St Martin and St Barts, French state-owned reinsurer CCR said Saturday.

 


"This amount covers damages to homes, vehicles and businesses" insured for natural disasters, CCR said in a statement.

Meanwhile, high winds and foul weathe continued to disrupt emergency relief efforts for hurricane-hit islands in the Caribbean Satuday bas local authorities attempted to deliver aid and prevent looting.

Two days after Hurricane Irma swept over the eastern Caribbean, killing at least 17 people and devastating thousands of homes, some islands braced for a second battering from Hurricane Jose this weekend.

"We've not got water or electricity," said Olivier Toussaint, who lives on St Barts with his 10-year-old daughter, adding that they were planning to go to a friend's underground bunker before Hurricane Jose hits.

Officials on the island of Guadeloupe, where French aid efforts are being coordinated, suspended boat crossings to the hardest-hit territories of St Martin and St Barts where 11 people have died.

Jose, which has strengthened to a Category Four hurricane, packing winds of up to 125 miles per hour (200 kph), will pass some 100 kilometers north of St Martin on Saturday, according to the French meteorological agency.

The agency has placed both the Caribbean islands on red alert, warning of storm surges of between five and seven meters.

"Weather conditions are deteriorating," the local administration in Guadeloupe said.

Two damaged but operational airports on St Martin remained open for helicopters, but flights too faced being suspended as Jose bears down.

Jose is barrelling along a similar path as Irma towards hard-hit St Martin, Anguilla, Barbuda and the British Virgin Islands among others.

The governor of the British Virgin Islands, Gus Jaspert, issued a recorded message to residents, saying he had declared a state of emergency.

"Apart from structural damage, there have sadly been reports of casualties and fatalities," he said.

Like France and the Netherlands, whose Caribbean territories are a legacy of colonialism, Britain too sent navy ships, soldiers and supplies to help with relief efforts in the region.

Hundreds of police reinforcements and rescue teams began arriving on St Martin, an island divided between France and the Netherlands, amid reports of pillaging and shortages of drinking water, food and fuel.