British Virgin Islands prisoners escape in Irma aftermath

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

Royal Marines in the aftermath of Irma.

Sir Alan Duncan, Minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, told the Commons that the convicts would 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.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

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 500,000 British nationals had been in the path of the hurricane and that 997 British military personnel were 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 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.

Mr Johnson is expected to visit these territories in the coming days.

In addition to 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 arrive within ten days.

Hurricane Irma also caused devastation in Florida, affecting 420,000 British citizens who were there either as residents or visitors.

“We should all be humble in the face of the power of nature,” said Sir Alan.