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100 inmates in prison breakout on storm-hit British Virgin Islands

By Jon Vale

Around 100 "very serious" prisoners have escaped from jail on the British Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricane Irma, a minister has said.

Foreign Minister Sir Alan Duncan told the Commons that the convicts pose a "serious threat of the complete breakdown of law and order" on the overseas territory. He told MPs: "The prison was breached, over 100 very serious prisoners escaped."

Sir Alan said Marines from RFA Mounts Bay were used to "protect the Governor and everything else about law and order" on Friday.

He said that more than half-a-million British nationals have been in the path of the hurricane and that 997 British military personnel are now in the Caribbean helping with the relief effort.

He added that while the death toll was low for a storm of this magnitude, the infrastructure on the island of Barbuda "no longer exists". Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is visiting the British territories devastated by the hurricane.

Sir Alan said: "Over 500,000 British nationals, either residents or tourists, have been in the path of Hurricane Irma, which has caused devastation across an area spanning well over 1,000 miles."

Giving an update to MPs, Sir Alan said five people had died in the British Virgin Islands and four in Anguilla.

In addition to the military personnel, 47 British police officers have also arrived in the British Virgin Islands to assist local officers. Already, 20 tonnes of UK aid has arrived in the region, including more than 2,500 shelter kits and 2,300 solar lanterns.

Nine tonnes of food and water supplies are due to be flown out to Anguilla imminently, Sir Alan said.

He added that HMS Ocean, Britain's biggest warship in service, is heading to the Caribbean and should be there within 10 days. There were 420,000 British citizens in Florida either as residents or visitors, where Hurricane Irma also caused devastation.

Residents have been allowed to return to some islands in the Florida Keys as officials try to piece together the scope of Irma's destruction and rush aid to the drenched and debris-strewn state.

Two days after the storm roared into the Keys with 130mph winds, the full extent of the destruction is still a question mark because communications and access are cut off in many areas.

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