Macron, Johnson visit hurricane-hit Caribbean

Erick Amador and his dog Barry check out the beach as people prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Irma

Almost a third of all buildings on the Dutch half of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin were destroyed and more than 90 percent damaged by Hurricane Irma, the Dutch Red Cross said on Tuesday.

Macron's plane touched down in St Martin as anger grew over looting and lawlessness in the French-Dutch territory after Hurricane Irma. The Dutch Red Cross said 90 percent of buildings on St. Maarten were damaged and a third destroyed by Irma's fierce winds and powerful storm surge.

The monster storm ripped through the two islands, leaving most of the 80,000 inhabitants homeless and causing crippling shortages of essentials.

"St Martin will be reborn, I promise", Macron told reporters in Pointe-a-Pitre, on the French island of Guadeloupe. Several U.S. Navy ships were in the islands, ferrying in heavy equipment for a recovery effort led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its local equivalent.

"He will be there on Tuesday morning", Collomb said after meeting Macron at the Elysee presidential palace.

"Is there still a life here?" wondered Michelene Jean-Charles, a heavily pregnant 23-year-old resident of St Martin, which is divided between France and the Netherlands.

"I will try my best, but I have nowhere to spend the night", she said, adding that the homes of her family and friends are already full.

The government told all residents to stay inside and put the island and St. Barts on its highest alert level as Hurricane Jose rolled through the area. The French, British and Dutch governments sent warships, planes and security forces to keep order and deliver aid but some of that was slowed down further by Hurricane Jose, which passed north of the region over the weekend.

Britain was forced to reinforce its marines on the British Virgin Islands after more than 100 "very serious" inmates escaped after a prison was breached in the storm, Alan Duncan, Britain's minister for Europe and the Americas, said on Tuesday.

A total of around 9,000 people live on St. Barts, and most were left without shelter. The electricity supply has also been badly hit, authorities said.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will visit the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla to see the relief effort first-hand, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

He said he had little information on what to do and "no information or addresses" for those rendered homeless.

Hundreds of tourists were still trying to leave the island, with dozens lining up outside St. Maarten's Princess Juliana Airport, where only five large letters of its name remained.

"Most of the cars are without windows and a lot of people lost their roofs", Fifer, a charter boat captain, said.

"It is an insufficient drop in the Caribbean ocean for islands subject to devastation and inhabited by its own citizens", he wrote in an email.

There has also been criticism of the Dutch response.

A former UK EU representative for the government of Anguilla, Dorothea Hodge, told The Guardian that "It's absolutely disgraceful that it has taken the whole day for Priti Patel [Development Secretary] to respond to the worst hurricane we have seen in a British territory since the 1920s".

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