this is bbc news. i'm martine croxall. the headlines at 11: hurricane irma continues its destructive path through the caribbean. it has killed at least ten people and destroying entire islands. as the extent of the disaster becomes clear, the government here is accused of not helping british overseas territories fast enough. people are feeling that britain did not respond quickly enough given that we know that this is hurricane season. on newsnight, hurricane earnerfinds its next target, we fear from the turks like acoss. is devout faith compatible with holders the highest political position in the land? —— turks and caicos —— hurricane. good evening and welcome to bbc news.
hurricane irma, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the atlantic, is sweeping across the eastern caribbean with devastating force. at least ten people are known to have died. the british overseas territory of anguilla has been badly affected, a royal navy helicopter carrier is being sent to the region. the islands of barbuda and st martin were the first to feel the full force of the winds. then came puerto rico and next in line are cuba and florida. with phone lines down, roads destroyed by flooding and airports damaged, communication is difficult. our correspondent laura bicker sent this report from puerto rico. hurricane irma, a storm the size of france, has carved a destructive path through the caribbean. in puerto rico, three people were killed as winds battered the island. as daylight came and the clear—out began, most felt lucky to have survived such a terrifying storm. i pray god don't come here no more!
this family told me they felt blessed to be alive and that the only damage was a downed power line and fallen trees in their street. they have kept eight—month—old aaron safe. there is a collective sigh of relief in puerto rico. there is work to be done. up to 30—foot waves threw up debris and downed trees. but when it comes to that catastrophic eye of the hurricane, that only skirted this island, unlike others in the caribbean. on the tiny island of barbuda, barely a building was left untouched. hundreds of families now find themselves homeless. the house, i lose my home. i lose my shop. also my vehicle. everything's damaged. and right now, i don't have nowhere to go to sleep. we had cars flying over our heads.
we had containers, a0 foot containers, flying left and right, and the story that you are getting from most of the residents here is that the eye of the storm came just in time. persons were literally tying themselves to their roofs with ropes to keep themselves down. barbuda's prime minister said the island was now barely habitable. what i saw was heart—wrenching. i mean, absolutely devastating. i would say that about 95% of the properties would have suffered some level of damage. in neighbouring st martin, the full force of the hurricane's eye was caught on camera. winds of 185 mph hammered the island. more than 70,000 people live in this area, which is made of dutch and french territories. shipping containers were tossed around like lego bricks.
moored boats were smashed in the harbour and there are warnings that the death toll is likely to rise. france has sent three emergency teams to help with the clear—up and has already set up a reconstruction fund. in the british territory of anguilla, there was criticism from residents to the uk response to the hurricanes. it was labelled "pathetic" and "disgraceful". a british task force is now on its way there, including the royal marines and army engineers, although it could take two weeks for them to get there. efforts are also under way to try to get supplies to the island of st barts. the french government say their priority is making sure people have food and drinking water. and the british virgin islands, a sought—after holiday destination, is the latest place to be pummelled. the water is going up. a tropical paradise, transformed. it nearly went up and then sat
there. hurricane irma is not finished. she has maintained her wind speeds and is barrelling towards another british territory, the low—lying turks & caicos islands. the us sunshine state of florida will be next in her sights. they are nervous after watching others endure her wrath. laura bicker, bbc news, puerto rico. on the line is sarah russell from warrington, who is on holiday in turks & caicos islands with her partner and three children. we know turks & caicos islands are nextin we know turks & caicos islands are next in line to feel the full force of hurricane irma, what are the conditions like for you? they are getting pretty bad. trees are starting to uproot. more the skinnier trees are starting to
uproot. obviously all the palm trees are beginning to bend. you go outside and all you can hear is wind so outside and all you can hear is wind so the wind is really powerful. it's coming, it is definitely not far off anyway. you were due to fly home today but that's not been possible, can you tell us why? the airport closed yesterday at 6pm, so... they've been tracking the hurricane for eight days, british airways could have sent flights to get us out of here but they didn't bother to do so. american airlines sent extra flights, accommodated the people that were on the island with other airlines that teamed up to get them out but we have nothing, no contact. when we did call them we we re contact. when we did call them we were put on hold, they told us our ﬂight were put on hold, they told us our flight was still going to go ahead and we knew full well it wasn't
because we knew it was physically impossible seeing as the storm hit us impossible seeing as the storm hit us today and by this evening it will hit us and obviously the airport closed yesterday. what help are you getting and from whom? honestly the people on the island that work for the hotel have been better than we ever imagined, they have been great, they have supported us and worked tirelessly round—the—clock to prepare everything and make sure we have food and water in our rooms and that we know what to expect and how to remain safe. i would go as far as saying they have put our safety before their own. what have they told you to expect, how do you prepare? i don't think they know themselves what to expect. one minute it is drifting more towards
us minute it is drifting more towards us than they initially thought. they told us if it gets really intense then mattresses need to go in front of the windows, that we need to turn the tv is around and set up the bathtu bs to the tv is around and set up the bathtubs to make sure we have water —— kelly's. any objects capable of falling or flying we need to make sure that they are out of the way, general precautionary thawing things really. these storms are terrible enough when you been through them before but for you it is completely uncharted, isn't it? we have no idea what to expect. people say you seem quite calm, it's not so much carbon, it is that i've not got a clue what's going to happen or how bad it's going to be. obviously i've
been checking updates and i've seen the devastation it has caused on other islands. we are a small island. the highest point on this island. the highest point on this island is 50 feet so those storm surges and those waves, common sense is it will devastate this island. i'm trying not to think too much into it because i don't want to scare myself. i have my partner and stepchildren to think of and i don't wa nt to stepchildren to think of and i don't want to scare them either. sarah, we will be thinking of you and keep as safe as you can. it sounds like you're in excellent hands with the locals trying to help you. sarah russell, thanks for talking to us from the turks & ca icos talking to us from the turks & caicos islands. and laura bicker has travelled to antigua. you seen what it's been like in puerto rico, how does antigua compare? well, the difference a few kilometres makes when it comes to this storm has been incredible. in
antigua the infrastructure has stayed mostly intact. it was hit ha rd by stayed mostly intact. it was hit hard by the storm but nowhere near as bad as the island 60 kilometres away, barbados. 95% of the buildings have been destroyed, the prime minister described this as an uninhabitable. people are in need of food, shelter and clean water. the weather was so bad after the hurricane that no one could get in contact with barbuda and now they have they have seen the devastation for themselves. within the last few hours there's been a window to get aid in, they have got boats and helicopters but they are trying to get people out because there is another worry on the way and that is hurricanejose, another worry on the way and that is hurricane jose, on its another worry on the way and that is hurricanejose, on its way and forming in the atlantic basin so the idea is to get people to shelter and safety before the next band of hurricane weather comes group. for
the moment, laura bicker in antigua, thank you. well, joining me now is dorothea hodge, former uk eu representative for the government of anguilla. we know anguilla has been very badly hit. there's been criticism of the british response so far. what is your view of the british government offering? they are kind of getting their act together now, thank you, but it's taking their time and while islands islanders were getting themselves ready we expected the uk would have their response in place soi would have their response in place so i was shocked on monday when there was hardly any response at all. i was calling the foreign office expecting an emergency line, nothing at all. why would that be, surely the responsibilities and the response is pretty well—established, is it? i think we all thought so but it was clearly not the case because today finally we've had a promise of
funds. that took to this afternoon to come through, $12 million. then a promise of a ship, but the ship is two weeks away, and of additional ship. finally this evening the promise of $32 million —— an additional ship. these islands have been devastated. i return from them ten days ago and the pictures i have seen have made me weep. they're facing another storm on saturday. there's no chance of getting themselves hurricane ready as much as they would want to because they've already just gone as they would want to because they've alreadyjust gone through this huge hurricane, unprecedented. how does the response of france to its protectorates differ? it's night and day, it's absolutely night and day. if i say the french and the dutch... the dutch had marines already on their territories reporting back before the storm started. hours landed in anguilla i understand today. the french
announced today, macron announced yesterday from a crisis emergency centre, number one there was an emergency hotline, number two, they would do immediate relief and there was a relief fund, and number three there would be a reconstruction fund. we are a day on and finally there was a cobra meeting when you would have thought there would be won at the weekend when it was announced as an unprecedented storm and there's been no announcement about reconstruction. this isn't just anguilla, the british virgin islands as well, we can assume they will be of concern because there are a lot of british expats living there? the thing everyone keeps forgetting is every person on anguilla, montserrat, british virgin islands, they are british nationals, weather they are expats all residents, they are all british nationals, all british citizens that hold eu uk passports. like the
falkland islands? yes, or gibraltar. we would have expected an equivalent response if this happened in gibraltar or the falklands but that hasn't happened. it can't be explained away by the fact france and the netherlands have a different relationship with their islands than the one we have with hours. we all sit around the same table in brussels, we are all overseas territories of the european union. we are all in a relationship with our respective countries and its nose use for not responding in a crisis. you mentioned the european union, what kind of help will come directly from brussels rather than westminster to these islands? there's a crisis fund under the european development fund for all its overseas territories and that kicks in but it takes time to help with the reconstruction. there's an expectation that in an immediate crisis the uk should have its plan in place and should be able to react
and respond immediately. won't that planned be most effectively implemented in situ on those islands themselves? -- that plan. yes, if you have your team ready to implement that plan. what we've seen today... i have heard from the island the ship landed today, a0 marines came on today, which is fantastic. it is great they are there, they are absolutely needed, houses have been devastated and destroyed so they are absolutely needed. they need to go on british virgin islands and then turks & ca icos virgin islands and then turks & caicos islands. we simply haven't planned, i say we, but the uk government simply haven't planned effectively enough for a storm they knew was coming. it was known that there are some big large category three plus storm is coming this season. it just took a three plus storm is coming this season. itjust took a bit of planning —— storms. season. itjust took a bit of planning -- storms. dorothy, our