Looters ransack shops in aftermath of Hurricane Irma, with reports of armed prison escapees on the loose

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Terrified residents and holidaymakers have described scenes of civil unrest in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma as looters and armed prison escapees terrorised hurricane-hit islands in the Caribbean.

Looters in Miami have also been caught on camera ransacking shops hours after Irma struck the US, with local police saying they made several arrests in recent days.

It comes as Britain and France deployed extra police resources and troops amid reports of a crime wave after the ferocious storm hit.

Sam Branson, son of billionaire Richard Branson, has told of the ‘civil unrest’ in the British Virgin Islands, where his father owns a luxury resort, and said escaped prisoners were on the loose.

He said: “It’s really sad to say that there is a lot of civil unrest, and unfortunately some of the prisoners have escaped and are now armed.”

His Instagram plea came after 500 British soldiers were sent to the region, with 120 being stationed in the British Virgin Islands. 

Sam Branson talks about civil unrest in the British Virgin Islands following hurricane

More shocking footage has emerged, posted on Facebook by magazine Kriminalis, that appears to show thieves looting stores on the French-Dutch island of St Martin and making off with goods such as televisions.

The video surfaced after Annick Girardin, minister for France’s overseas territories, described “scenes of pillaging”, urging police to restore order and provide emergency care for victims.

“We need to restore public order to Saint-Martin,” she said.

“I was out this morning [Friday] and this afternoon and there was looting right there in front of my eyes. There is a strange mood at the moment in Saint-Martin, so we need to think about public order.”

In the wake of the devastating storm that tore through the region, reports have also emerged of looting on the islands of Anguilla, Barbuda and St Barts.

After it emerged looters were taking to the streets of Florida, Miami PD tweeted an image of ten people they had arrested on Sunday alongside the caption: “Thinking about looting? Ask these guys how that turned out.”

Fort Lauderale PD has said nine people were arrested for looting a pawn shop. The police department’s chief said online: “Going to prison over a pair of sneakers is a fairly bad life choice.

“Stay at home at look after your loved ones and be thankful they are all safe.”

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.

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