Boris Johnson to fly to Caribbean islands for Hurricane Irma relief effort

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Boris Johnson will head to British territories in the Caribbean left devastated in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

It is understood the Foreign Secretary will fly to the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla, which both suffered catastrophic damage when the storm hit last week.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said Mr Johnson will spend “the coming days” on the islands, and will visit local communities struggling to recover from the storm.

On Monday, he defended the Government’s response to Hurricane Irma amid claims the UK had done less to evacuate its citizens than other nations.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was among those to claim the UK should have acted “much faster”, though Mr Johnson dismissed the criticism as “completely unjustified”.

More than 700 troops and 50 police officers have already been sent to the British Virgin Islands after they were battered by the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Foreign Secretary said there had been an “unprecedented” effort to deal with the aftermath of the storm.

He said: “This is a very big consular crisis and I am confident we are doing everything we possibly can to help British nationals.”

Hurricane Irma devastates Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island home

The announcement of his visit comes after it was revealed that six deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, along with three in Georgia and one in South Carolina.

At least 35 people were killed in the Caribbean.

Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm on Monday, after it had wreaked havoc along Florida’s west coast, leaving an estimated 13 million – two-thirds of the state’s population – without power.

In the British Virgin Islands, expats and tourists have spoken of their shock at the extent of the damage.

UK aid: RAF crews load aid onto a Chinook helicopter (PA)

Sir Richard Branson, who braved the storm and stayed on his island getaway of Necker, has revealed in a series of shocking pictures the extent of the damage to the British Virgin Islands.

He wrote in a blog post: “As you can see from the photos, much of the buildings and vegetation on Necker has been destroyed or badly damaged.

“We felt the full force of the strongest hurricane ever in the Atlantic Ocean.”

He added: “The UK government will have a massive role to play in the recovery of its territories affected by Irma – both through short-term aid and long-term infrastructure spending.”


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