LONDON – British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson will visit the United Kingdom’s Caribbean overseas territories hit by Hurricane Irma, according to a Foreign Office statement released on Tuesday.
Johnson is to inspect the UK government’s response to the catastrophic damage inflicted by the hurricane week on the British overseas territories of Anguilla, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos.
“Over the coming days the Foreign Secretary will see the UK’s relief effort at first hand,” the statement said. “The UK has a major response effort underway after the most powerful hurricane to hit the Caribbean in decades.”
The British government said it had deployed 700 troops and 50 police officers as aid was being distributed across the islands.
The UK’s government had been criticized by the David Burt, Premier of Bermuda for reacting late, after it became clear that France and the Netherlands had sent aid before Irma had hit their own territories in the region.
Johnson wrote on his Twitter account, after a UK Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms COBRA emergency meeting, that the “UK government continues to work around the clock to help get the Overseas Territories back on their feet.”
According to the FO statement minister, Johnson will meet with the British governors and civil service members to coordinate reconstruction efforts in the worst-hit areas.
Apart from the troops deployed, the UK counts with a supply vessel, RFS Mounts Bay which was pre-positioned in the area prior to the hurricane season.
The Royal Navy has also ordered HMS Ocean, with two large Cougar helicopters on board, to further assist emergency operations underway, but its arrival is scheduled next week.
Two RAF heavy-lift C-17 transport aircraft are also involved in the supply operation.
The British government continued its urgent assessment of the damage and community needs in its overseas territories.
Irma left around 30 dead on its path through the Caribbean and recorded winds of up to 295 kilometers per hour (183 mph), which converted it into a powerful category 5 hurricane.
In the US, where it made landfall on Sunday, it caused heavy flooding, left about 10 dead and about 6.5 million households without electricity.