Richard Branson's Necker Island home destroyed as Hurricane Irma obliterates swathes of the Caribbean

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Richard Branson’s Necker Island home has been left “uninhabitable” after Hurricane Irma obliterated swathes of the Caribbean.

The British billionaire retreated to his concrete wine cellar with his family and team as the powerful category 5 hurricane swept through his private retreat the British Virgin Islands. 

It is the second time the Necker Island home has been severely damaged after the building caught fire when it was struck by lightning caused by Hurricane Irene six years ago. 

Hurricane Irma – the most powerful ever recorded in the Atlantic – tore a deadly path through the Caribbean on Wednesday, killing at least eight people.

Branson said his whole staff slept together in two rooms as the hurricane approached (Virgin.com)

The storm destroyed nearly all buildings on the island of Barbuda, killing a two-year-old child as a family tried to escape, before wreaking havoc on the French territories of St Martin and St Barts, leaving a further seven people dead.

After the hurricane hit Necker Island, Branson’s son Sam said his father and family were safe.

He added that most of the buildings on the island had been destroyed and that their main house had been left “unhabitable”. 

Branson stayed on Necker Island during the hurricane (Virgin.com)

Writing on Instagram, his son said: “Glad to say that all humans on Necker are OK. Sad to say that most of the buildings have been destroyed and main house in ‘uninhabitable’. 

“[It’s] making me very concerned for our friends and everyone on the neighbouring islands and people in its path.

“Please don’t take this hurricane lightly if it is heading your way. If your building is not very solid, do find somewhere safe. Homes can be rebuilt but lives can’t.

“Nature warning us again of the impact of climate change. We must all do more.”

Rain from Irma slams US Virgin Islands

Actress Kate Winslet was on the island with Branson, his mother and 20 other guests when Huricane Irene hit in 2011. Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, model Kate Moss and singer Harry Styles are among the famous faces to have visited the island.

Virgin boss and business tycoon Branson had earlier revealed in his online blog that he would be staying on the island of Necker for Hurricane Irma, despite warnings from officials of a “potentially catastrophic” impact.

He posted pictures of furniture stacked up and hurricane blinds down on his luxury home as he braced for the Category five storm.

Branson also shared photos of he and his team having a sleepover on Tuesday night and playing card games while “howling wind and rain” battered his home as the storm approached.

Branson stacked up furniture at his luxury home in preparation for the storm (Virgin.com)

Writing on his blog on Wednesday, he said: “We are expecting to get the full force of the hurricane in around five hours’ time, when we will retreat to a concrete wine cellar under the Great House. 

“Knowing our wonderful team as I do, I suspect there will be little wine left in the cellar when we all emerge.”

The British overseas territory of Anguilla was among the first islands to be hit by the hurricane.

Britons have been urged by the Foreign Office to follow evacuation orders, while states of emergency have been declared in Puerto Rico, Cuba and Florida – amid fears Miami could be struck directly by the hurricane.


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