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Hurricane Irma: UK territory declares state of emergency

Hurricane Irma: UK territory declares state of emergency

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"Heartbroken": Hear the British Virgin Islands governor declare a state of emergency after Hurricane Irma
A state of emergency has been declared in a British Overseas Territory hit by Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean.British Virgin Islands governor Gus Jaspert said there were reports of casualties and fatalities, and help had been requested from the UK.Mr Jaspert said he was "truly heartbroken by this news".The UK government has increased the relief fund for British overseas territories devastated by Hurricane Irma from ?12m to ?32m.The announcement was made by Prime Minister Theresa May as she said the government had responded "swiftly" to the disaster.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the government was doing all it could to help people affected.But former UN head of humanitarian relief Baroness Amos said it was felt the UK "did not respond" quickly enough.
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In an audio message, Mr Jaspert said: "I come to you with a heavy heart after experiencing and observing the extent of devastation caused by Hurricane Irma."After consultation with the premier, I have declared a state of emergency for the territory."Radio and other communication channels are extremely limited. And so I am reaching out with this message via any channel possible."Please do pass it on by any means accessible to you."
Emily Killhoury's house was a strong concrete structure, other properties were worse hit
Emily and Michael Killhoury have lived on Tortola, one of the main islands in the British Virgin Islands, for five years with their children, aged nine and 10. She told the BBC the hurricane was terrifying when it hit."We live in a concrete house with full storm shutters. "We are on the north east coast, quite high up but also exposed. We thought we were well prepared. The low pressure was hurting our ears and the noise was incredible. We were bunkered down in a closet with no windows. "Our downstairs doors suddenly blew out, which was terrifying. We just stayed hiding. The eye was very surreal, the sky went blue and everything stopped for over half an hour. "It was extremely tough going back, knowing we had to face round two."We eventually emerged at about 7pm to see total devastation. "We have seen the neighbours and they are all OK. Their houses are in various grades of destruction, too. Everybody is shocked, but trying to be practical. "If hurricane Jose is coming we need to come up with a plan now, so that is what we are focusing on."
Black out
Howling winds and rough seas battered the low-lying British territory of Turks and Caicos, ripping off roofs, flooding streets, snapping utility poles and causing a widespread black-out on the main island of Grand Turk.Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan said British overseas territory Anguilla received the hurricane's "full blast" while the British Virgin Islands would need "extensive humanitarian assistance".At least one death has been reported on Anguilla, according to local officials.British territory Montserrat was "swiped" but the damage was not as bad as first thought, Sir Alan said.Royal Navy ship RFA Mounts Bay is in the region and HMS Ocean is also being sent but is not expected to arrive for another two weeks.The Ministry of Defence said the first military relief flight to the Caribbean - with military personnel, rations and water on board - will leave from RAF Brize Norton on Friday. Other transport aircraft will follow with helicopters on board. International Development Secretary Priti Patel said "world-leading humanitarian experts" as well as 200 shelter kits had been sent to the region as part of the UK's response.Hurricane Irma has caused widespread destruction across the Caribbean, reducing buildings to rubble and leaving at least 10 people dead.The Queen said she and the Duke of Edinburgh had been shocked and saddened by reports of the devastation.Are you in the region? Are you a holidaymaker unable to get a flight home or a resident who has been preparing for Hurricane Irma? If it is safe for you to do so, share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:
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