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MPs accuse Government of not doing enough to help in the wake of Hurricane Irma

By PA Reporter

The chairs of the Commons Foreign Affairs and International Development committees, Tom Tugendhat and Stephen Twigg, said Britain's response to Hurricane Irma has been "found wanting".

In a letter to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Priti Patel, they wrote: "While we welcome the increase in funding for disaster relief in the British Overseas Territories to £32m and the fact that personnel, equipment and the RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) Mounts Bay were dispatched to the area before the hurricane struck, arriving in Anguilla the day after its devastation, we are concerned that many in the UK's overseas territories in the Caribbean are still in grave need.

"In Anguilla, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Turks and Caicos, our response still requires improvement and the arrival of HMS Ocean in two weeks' time will be later than any of us would wish.

"We do recognise that information and analysis is required to tailor a proportion of the relief sent to meet conditions on the ground, but there are also predictable needs and demands in such circumstances."

They said they expect the Government to take a role in the long-term reconstruction of communities devastated by the storm and urged the ministers to set out what they are doing to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Jose, which could affect already-hit areas.

Relief efforts are under way on islands devastated by Hurricane Irma as a second "extremely dangerous" storm threatens the Caribbean. Some already-ravaged areas are preparing for further possible damage as Hurricane Jose, which has been upgraded to category four, travels through the Atlantic.

Medical supplies and other aid are being flown from the UK to the areas worst affected by Irma following a £32m pledge from the British Government.

The Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, which were "pummelled" overnight, declared a national shutdown as the hurricane continued its destructive path towards America.

The death toll from Irma has risen to 20, with four more people believed to have died on the British Virgin Islands, it is reported.

US President Donald Trump warned Americans in Irma's path to "get out of its way".

He tweeted: "Hurricane Irma is of epic proportion, perhaps bigger than we have ever seen. Be safe and get out of its way, if possible."

The National Hurricane Centre said the storm was likely to move near the north coast of Cuba and central Bahamas yesterday and today, and approach Florida by tomorrow. Life-threatening wind and rain and a storm surge are expected in the Turks and Caicos Islands into Saturday.

Forecasters said Hurricane Jose could affect already-hit areas, with the British Virgin Islands on tropical storm watch, and the Commonwealth islands of Barbuda and Antigua and British territory of Anguilla on hurricane watch.

Yesterday Downing Street said: "Three flights departed this morning carrying Marines and engineers as part of the MoD task force.

"Tomorrow another C17 will leave carrying two Puma helicopters. And the RFA Mounts Bay ship is due to arrive in the British Virgin Islands... bringing aid and helicopters to help deliver supplies."

It said supplies aid are to be loaded on to HMS Ocean, which has been diverted from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean.

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