SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Authorities say at least one person has died in the northeast Caribbean island of Anguilla, raising the death toll of Hurricane Irma to at least 10 as the Category 5 storm roars through the region.
The Caribbean Disaster Management Agency reported the death early Thursday and said 90 percent of roads in Anguilla are impassible.
France’s Interior Minister, Gerard Collomb, told Franc Info that at least eight people have died and another 23 were injured in the French Caribbean island territories of St. Martin and St. Barthelemy. That number is expected to rise.
French President Emmanuel Macron will go to the islands hit by Hurricane Irma as soon as weather conditions permit.
— NOAAHurricaneHunters (@NOAA_HurrHunter) September 6, 2017
Macron’s office said Thursday that the president will travel to France’s Caribbean territories “as soon as possible” once immediate rescue operations are complete.
The president of the territorial council, Daniel Gibbs, said on Radio Caraibes International that Saint-Martin is “95 percent destroyed.”
The island is part French, part Dutch. The Dutch government is holding a crisis meeting about the damage to its part, St. Maarten.
Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said early Thursday that ministers would huddle in The Hague to coordinate the aid operation after initial aerial images taken from a navy helicopter showed the extent of damage to the island.
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) September 6, 2017
Plasterk told Dutch NOS radio that there is “an extreme amount of damage, particularly on St. Maarten.” He said the government had no confirmed reports yet of casualties, but stressed that communications were proving difficult.
Aerial images released by the Dutch Defense Ministry show scenes of utter devastation on the island of St. Maarten in the aftermath of a direct hit by Category 5 Hurricane Irma.
Video, shot from a navy helicopter sent to assess damage Wednesday evening, shows seafront hotels – a mainstay of the Caribbean island’s economy – with their roofs badly damaged, palm trees stripped of fronds and poolside terraces covered in sand.
The island’s airport also was hit hard, with what appeared to be sand washed up to parts of the main terminal and the building’s roof extensively damaged. No aircraft were visible on the tarmac. The airport is famous around the world because its runway ends very close to a beach, where tourists can stand and watch landing aircraft skim low overhead.
Streets were largely deserted and littered with debris. At a port area, shipping containers were strewn like children’s building blocks. Elsewhere, yachts were shown jumbled together in a small harbor, some overturned or dumped, upside down, onto the shore.
In Barbuda, a 2-year-old child was killed as a family tried to escape a damaged home during the storm.
Authorities are struggling to get aid to small Caribbean islands devastated by the storm’s record 185 mph (298 kph) winds.
— NWS (@NWS) September 6, 2017
As of 11 a.m. Thursday, a hurricane watch was issued for the Florida Keys and parts of South Florida.
The U.S. Hurricane Center in Miami says a watch has been issued for the Florida Keys, and on the South Florida mainland from Jupiter Inlet southward and around the peninsula to Bonita Beach.
The center noted that Hurricane Irma was still an “extremely dangerous” Category 5 hurricane, although its winds had decreased slightly from 180 mph (285 kph) to 175 mph (280 kph).
The hurricane was headed for the Turks and Caicos Islands on Thursday.
The Hurricane Center has predicted that Irma will remain at Category 4 or 5 for the next day or two as it passes the Turks and Caicos, parts of the Bahamas by Thursday night, and skirts Cuba on Friday night into Saturday.
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) September 7, 2017
It will then likely head north toward Florida, where people were rushing to board up homes, fill cars with gasoline and find a route to safety.
Meanwhile, in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Katia has prompted a hurricane warning in Mexico in the state of Veracruz. That hurricane is centered about 195 miles (310 kilometers) northeast of Veracruz, Mexico. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm is stationary with little overall motion expected though late Thursday.