London News & Search
Two British sisters who were missing after Hurricane Irma hit the island of Barbuda have been found alive and well, their family has confirmed.
Afiya Frank, who is almost seven months pregnant, and her sister Asha last spoke to their family in Suffolk at 10pm on Wednesday night as they were preparing for the worst of the storm.
Their Aunt, Ruth Bolton, told the Standard her and her sister Claire Frank were going “out of our mind” with worry after having not heard from them for hours.
But Ms Bolton has since confirmed they are safe and had been seen helping with the relief effort on the devastated island.
She tweeted: “Alive and well and helping organise the evacuation effort #Barbuda. That’s my girls. We now know that they are safe and unharmed.”
Former beauty queen Asha, 29, and beauty therapist Afiya, 27, were with their father Mackenzie on the island and had last spoken to their aunt and mother – who is staying with her sister in the UK – when they were boarding up their house.
Ms Bolton told the Standard on Thursday: “The three of them were all in the house together and they had boarded up the property. Since then we have not heard anything.
“[Claire] is going out of her mind. Having said that, she is resilient. She went through Hurricane Luis [in 1995] and after that we lost contact with Barbuda for a week – but that was before mobile phones. Now we are so used to having instant contact.”
Afiya had been due to fly to the UK next week because the Carribean island’s tiny hospital cannot deliver her first child but it is unclear whether that will now be possible.
Ms Bolton has set up a fundraising page in the hope of getting a satellite phone across to the island so people can get in touch with their friends and families around the world.
The page has been inundated with donations and raised more than £7,000 in just one day.
She posted on the page on Friday: “Today we have been getting a little news from Barbuda. The Team Antigua Atlantic Rowers managed to get word back and some film footage of the island.
“It has been frustrating waiting for news and the lack of information unbearable. We now know that everyone is accounted for. Asha and Afiya Frank have been seen helping with the voluntary evacuation.
“Families are still trying to trace their loved ones and a boat and plane will travel back with more passengers tomorrow.”
The island was left barely habitable after Hurricane Irma ravaged through the Caribbean.
The category five storm is the largest ever to form in the Atlantic ocean and has so far claimed at least 14 lives.
On Thursday it swept over the Dominican Republic – where two “petrified” British girls were left huddled in their bathroom hiding away from the storm.
Lisa Trutwein told the Standard her daughter Sophie Collins and friend Eleanor Reid had been told to hide in the toilets of their beach resort hotel room.
“I spoke to her and she is crying, petrified, hiding in the bath under a mattress,” Ms Trutwein said on Thursday. “She said she can hear the building creaking and said the sky had gone black. I could hear the winds from down the phone.”
But both girls have now been confirmed safe and unharmed by the storm.
Ms Trutwein said they had stayed in the bathroom as it ravaged over the island and had food and drink delivered by “amazing” hotel staff.
“I just can’t wait for them to come home,” she told the Standard.
London News & Search