North America

Enormous devastation on St Martin:Dutch PM

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the Netherlands side of Saint Martin has suffered "enormous devastation" from Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma has caused "enormous devastation" to the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin and cut off electricity and gas, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says.

Most communications with the outside world are being conducted via the military, he said on Thursday, adding there was "no clarity" on victims.

The Dutch navy, which has two ships stationed off the coast of the island, tweeted images gathered by helicopter showing damaged houses, hotels and boats.

French authorities have counted at least eight dead on the French side of the island.

Dutch Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said he briefly had contact with Saint Martin's prime minister but communications were sporadic.

Sint Maarten is an independent nation within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with a population of about 40,000 - about the same as the French side.

Images of the country's Juliana Airport showed the landing strips appeared intact, though the navy said the airport is "unreachable" for now.

Dutch ships will try to moor on Sint Maarten to deliver emergency aid on Thursday.

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