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Sir Richard Branson praises islanders as Prince of Wales visits Tortola

He said it was “painful beyond words to see the devastation”.

The Prince of Wales has seen the hurricane-damaged British Virgin Islands – as its most famous resident Sir Richard Branson said the disaster had pulled the islanders together.

Charles was taken to see battered and crushed high school buildings on the main island of Tortola during a day spent witnessing for himself the destructive power of Hurricane Irma in the region.

His motorcade stopped at Elmore Stoutt High School, the main secondary school on the island, which has been left to the elements after being badly damaged in September by the category 5 storm.

Billionaire Virgin boss Sir Richard met Charles on Tortola at a reception for organisations and individuals who played their part in helping during the aftermath of the natural disaster.

He told the Press Association: “As far as the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are concerned the people were magnificent in the way they pulled together, everybody’s helping everybody.

“People have lost their homes and others are putting them up, everybody’s helping trying to get water back and electricity back on, and it’s been tremendous.”

Sir Richard decided to remain on Necker, his private Caribbean island in the BVI, and brave the storm with his staff when it struck in September.

Later a Virgin Atlantic Antigua flight was loaded with essential items to help the recovery effort, including blankets and bottled water.

Following the hurricane, the businessman called for a “Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan” – the US initiative that helped with the rebuilding of western Europe following the Second World War.

Sir Branson added: “Strangely I sometimes think that in these crisis situations the community comes out even stronger after, then before.

“In times of trouble people pull together like never before, it’s been like a war situation.”

Earlier Charles visited Barbuda and witnessed similar scenes of homes with their roofs blown off and houses standing at weird angles after being ripped from their foundations.

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