After Irma, Saint-Martin, Saint Barthelemy brace for Jose

  • World
  • Sunday, 10 Sep 2017

The aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Saint Martin island. Netherlands Ministry of Defense/via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - People on the Dutch-French Caribbean territories of Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy were bracing on Saturday for Hurricane Jose, a Category 4 storm expected to swipe the region after fellow storm Irma headed towards Florida.

Weather office Meteo France said the area would face new gusts of winds of more than 200 kph (125 mph) as well as torrential rains in the coming hours.

The police presence on the two islands has been boosted to close to 500 staff following reports of violence and looting after the passage of Irma, the French interior ministry said.

The ministry added 11 people suspected of "malicious actions" had been arrested since Friday.

Television footage showed scenes of chaos in Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy with submerged streets, boats and cars tossed into piles and rooftops ripped off.

A resident of Saint Martin told BFM TV she had heard gunshots and had seen people breaking into houses and shops in search of food.

France's Caisse Centrale de Reassurance, a state-owned reinsurance group, said Irma would go down as one of the most damaging disasters in decades on French territory and evaluated its cost at 1.2 billions euros ($1.44 billion).

Saint Barthelemy lies about 35 km southeast of Saint Martin, whose territory is divided between France and the Netherlands.

The French interior ministry said Irma had killed at least 10 people on the two islands.

(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Ros Russell)

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