Sir Richard Branson describes Virgin Islands as 'eerie but beautiful' as Hurricane Irma nears

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Sir Richard Branson has described the atmosphere in the British Virgin Islands as “eerie but beautiful” as locals brace for the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane on record to hit.

The billionaire businessman earlier posted pictures online as he is camped out on his own private island, Necker, with his staff as Hurricane Irma nears.

On his blog, he wrote: “We have just experienced a night of howling wind and rain as Hurricane Irma edges ever closer towards us on Necker and the British Virgin Islands.

“The atmosphere is eerie but beautiful. Everyone is willing the eye of the storm to veer away from the (BVIs) in these last few hours.”

Richard Branson has stacked up furniture at his luxury home in preparation for the storm (

He said all those left on Necker were planning on camping out in the wine cellar of the great house when the storm hits.

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

The category five hurricane is expected to hit the Leeward Islands of Antigua and Barbuda late on Wednesday before following a path along the Greater Antilles toward the US.

Experts at the National Hurricane Centre in the US have predicted 185mph winds and gusts of up to 200mph.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised Britons to follow the instructions of local authorities, including any evacuation orders.

A British naval ship has also been deployed to help deal with the aftermath of the storm.

Sir Richard Branson’s home has been equipped with hurricane blinds

International Development Secretary Priti Patel said: “The thoughts of the British people are with all those affected by Hurricane Irma and Britain has already taken swift action to respond.

“We have deployed three UK aid humanitarian experts to the region to help co-ordinate the response and positioned a British naval ship with 40 Royal Marines, Army Engineers and vehicles, tents and facilities to purify water on board.

“Our staff are on stand-by, both in the UK and at post, to support any British people affected.

Hurricane Irma Batters the Carribean

“We urge British nationals in the affected area to closely monitor and follow Foreign Office and local travel advice.”

A spokesman for the Department for International Development said the first task of the ship would be to support British Overseas Territories in need.

Six islands in the Bahamas were being evacuated on Wednesday while officials in the Leeward Islands have reportedly cut power and urged residents to seek shelter in a statement that ended with “May God protect us all”.

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