More than 100 inmates ‘escape prison hit by Hurricane Irma’ as Britain sends troops and police to Caribbean
Dozens of inmates have reportedly escaped a Caribbean prison that was ravaged by Hurricane Irma.
Between 100 and 120 prisoners are said to have fled the facility on the British Virgin Islands, Sky News reported.
The prison was partially destroyed by the hurricane, it was claimed.
The British Virgin Islands were one of the territories lashed by Irma as the monster storm tore through the Caribbean towards Florida.
The UK is sending troops and police officers to the British Overseas Territory to help with disaster relief efforts.
Almost 500 British troops have been deployed to Caribbean islands, with Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon saying the “relief operation is well under way”.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said there are just under 500 troops currently in the region, made up of marines, engineers, medics and specialists, including Army and RAF personnel.
Army soldiers have deployed from RFA Mounts Bay to the British Virgin Islands, while an A400 flight brought a further 50 marines.
An MoD spokesman said: “By the end of the evening there will be well over 100 marines and troops on the island, their priority will be establishing security and law and order before providing humanitarian assistance before the arrival of Hurricane Jose.”
The National Police Chiefs’ Council announced that British police officers will provide support to the British Virgin Islands force as part of the relief effort.
Irma has claimed at least 27 lives so far and is due to make landfall in Florida tomorrow morning after battering Cuba.
Florida is bracing for the “most catastrophic storm” to ever hit the state with many evacuation shelters full.
The monster storm was lashing Cuba today but was beginning its turn north towards the US, as Florida residents made their final preparations under the largest evacuation in the country’s history.
Nearly seven million people have been ordered to evacuate before the category three storm makes landfall tomorrow morning, and time was running out for those who haven’t heeded warnings.
Dozens of shelters were full or nearing capacity, with people being turned away and new ones being opened, as Irma was expected to strengthen over relatively warm waters and become a category four storm once again.
Florida Governor Rick Scott warned residents that Irma was on track to be “the most catastrophic storm” ever, and that those who ignore evacuation orders were at risk of serious injury or death.
In Esterno, near Naples, there was a massive queue as people waited to get a place at an evacuation shelter that was filling up fast.
Montgomery Campbell, 82, told Reuters: “We got the house all buttoned up.”
Luise Campana Read ignored the evacuation order and was planning to ride out the storm in her beachfront home in Fort Lauderdale with her elderly mum and other family members.
She said: “With a 97-year-old, there was no way I was going to have her sleep on a cot or a blow-up mattress.”
Motorways heading north were busy as people fled the giant storm, curfews were issued in cities to keep people off the streets, and bridges were closed.
Irma was packing maximum sustained winds of 125mph as it churned north.
The hurricane is expected to make landfall in the Florida Keys tomorrow morning, but its outer bands were already wreaking havoc today, with reports of fallen trees, large waves, power cuts and tornado warnings.
Despite beaches being closed, surfers and others risked their lives by wading into the dangerous sea.
The biggest concern is the storm surge, which could inundate coastal areas with 15ft of water or more in scenes similar to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Irma toppled structures and power lines and caused severe flooding as it battered Cuba’s northern coast.
It was a category five storm when it made landfall but weakened to a category three.
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