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Dailymall / News - Politics

Violence erupts in St Maarten after Hurricane Irma

Several people who are stranded on the island say looters have begun raiding hotel rooms and homes to profit from the natural disaster.
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Worrying reports of erupting violence have emerged from St Maarten, the southern half of the Caribbean Island it shares with St Martin, in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Several people who are stranded on the island say looters have begun raiding hotel rooms and homes to profit from the natural disaster.

One woman claimed they attacked US and British tourists who became stranded when say some who have spoken to relatives on the island. 

Troops were called in on Friday to offset the problem.

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There were terrifying reports of looting and violence coming out of St Maarten on Friday in the wake of Hurricane Irma 

Massimiliano Napoliello, the manager of a bar in Maho Beach, issued a desperate plea for help on Facebook. 

'The situation in SXM is a HELL! NO WATER NO FOOD NO ELECTRICITY NO COMMUNICATION!! 

'They are completely isolated and there are CRIMINALS carrying GUNS AND KNIVES SHOOTING and looting all over!! NOTHING IS WORKING, THERE ARE NO RULES, THERE IS NO LAW AND NO PROTECTION RIGHT NOW!!' he said.  

At the Simpson Bay Resort and Marina, looters went in to unoccupied rooms to steal TVs, one staff member said on Twitter. 

'A small minority of sxm-er's were looting our unoccupied rooms until the Dutch military arrived. Not essentials - taking TV's,' he said.

The same man said a bank was robbed the next day. 

Laura Conroy's family were stranded on the island and are now awaiting rescue from US military planes. 

They are taking American citizens to the more developed Puerto Rico. 

She said that through the intermittent contact she has had with her sister, she learned that looting was a problem. 'Many US citizens are being attacked and robbed,' she told DailyMail.com. 

Massimiliano Napoliello, the general manager of Sky Beach, a bar in Maho Beach, shared this desperate plea on Friday 

In St Martin, the French occupied half of the island, police men deterred other looters after Hurricane Irma

There were snaking queues at the airport as people desperately waited to be taken off the island

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned the situation was already 'serious' and made worse by communication problems after 185mph Irma laid waste to infrastructure.

Witnesses on the Dutch side of the island say people are roaming the streets armed with 'revolvers and machetes' while Rutte said most people are surviving without power and running water.

Extra troops and police are arriving on the southern part of the island, which is shared between France and the Netherlands, and part of their job is to help keep order, officials said.

Troops are being called in to stop looters armed with guns and machetes on hurricane-ravaged St Martin with food, water and medicine running low, it has emerged. Dutch soldiers are pictured patrolling the streets on the Dutch side of the island

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned the situation was already 'serious' and made worse by communication problems after 185mph Irma laid waste to infrastructure. A Dutch soldier keeps watch on the island 

Witnesses on the Dutch side of the island say people are roaming the streets armed with 'revolvers and machetes' while Rutte said most people are surviving without power and running water. A Dutch Royal Navy officer speaks to a driver at a check point on the island

Up to 95 per cent of the island was destroyed as the hurricane pummeled its shores on Wednesday

Up to 95 per cent of the island was destroyed as the hurricane pummeled its shores on Wednesday. 

The badly damaged airport and port have now 'been opened for military purposes,' Rutte told reporters, adding 'we are doing everything possible to get aid to the area.'

He said food, water and security were the priorities on the island, known in Dutch as Sint Maarten.

'We will not abandon Sint Maarten,' he said, adding that officials were also sending medicines, tents, tarpaulins and hygiene kits as fast as possible to the Caribbean.

'The military has two tasks after arriving there. Firstly to ensure that there is food and water, but also to ensure security,' Rutte said.

'There are people on the streets armed with revolvers and machetes,' one witness told the Dutch newspaper AD on Friday. 'The situation is very serious. No one is in charge.'

Extra troops and police are arriving on the southern part of the island, which is shared between France and the Netherlands, and part of their job is to help keep order, officials said

This was the scene at the island's world famous international airport after the hurricane had lashed it with ferocious winds

Dutch officials have confirmed that one person was killed on the Dutch part of Saint Martin by the Category Five storm, before it was downgraded early Friday to a four as it barrelled towards Cuba and Florida. 

Earlier today it emerged that Dutch King Willem-Alexander will fly to the Caribbean to inspect the coordination of relief efforts.

The Royal House announced the visit Friday, saying the monarch will assess in Curacao 'whether and when it is possible to visit St. Maarten' and nearby Dutch islands Saba and St. Eustatius, which were less severely damaged by Irma's winds.

A headquarters in Curacao is helping coordinate a military operation to deliver supplies to the 40,000-strong population of St. Maarten. 

The tiny country, which shares an island with the French territory of St. Martin, has been autonomous since 2010, but remains part of the Dutch commonwealth.

Dramatic aerial pictures show scenes of devastation on a Caribbean island after it was ravaged by the most powerful hurricane the Atlantic has ever seen. At a port area, shipping containers were strewn like children's building blocks (pictured)

Astonishing images show the scale of the destruction on the island of St. Maarten in the aftermath of a direct hit by Category 5 Hurricane Irma

Massive waves continued to crash into the coastline of the Dutch side of St Martin last night in the aftermath of the storm

Prime Minister Mark Rutte says that most people are surviving on the island without the basic necessities of life. Power, running water and most communications were knocked out by the powerful storm and looting has been reported by local authorities struggling to keep control of the island. 

He said the first plane already has landed at the airport in the capital, Philipsburg, and navy vessels have unloaded vital supplies in a race against time before the next storm arrives.

Hurricane Jose is forecast to pass through the region Saturday, but Rutte says it's not expected - at the moment - to directly hit St. Maarten as Irma did Wednesday and winds will likely be significantly weaker.

Rutte and Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk say troops are helping stretched local authorities on the autonomous territory to uphold law and order amid looting of stores. St. Maarten is the Dutch side of St. Martin, an island split between Dutch and French control.

'Save us from HELL': British man describes chaos as armed looters smash into stores

A British man has spoken of the 'hell' left in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Martin Lucas lives and works on the paradise isle of St Martin. But yesterday the piano player described how law and order was breaking down as desperate islanders were trying to survive.

He said locals armed with machetes were smashing into shops and apartments to find food and water.

Martin, from St Columb, Cornwall, said: 'I'm okay but I've had better days. I haven't been able to eat properly, drink properly, wash for four days now. The whole island has now power, water, toilet facilities.

'We've now got a breakdown in law and order. People with machetes breaking into shops and apartments taking what they need. It is a very violent and dangerous place.'

A headquarters in Curacao is helping coordinate a military operation to deliver supplies to the 40,000-strong population of St. Maarten

Martin, in his 30s, and his US fiancée took cover in a concrete bunker designed to thwart the power of 150mph hurricanes - but not 230mph hurriacanes.

He said the eye of the storm hit the island and rocks and boulders were tossed through the air, along with cars.

Windows were blown out like they were paper, he said.

Martin went on: 'People are very scared. I have hardly slept and I have run out of words to describe what is happening.

'We are trying to survive. It is the worst experience. You cannot comprehend what it feels like.

Wooden structures were obliterated by ferocious winds that battered St Martin on Wednesday

Princess Juliana airport on the Dutch side of St Martin was famed for its proximity to the beach with tourists gathering to watch planes land just over their heads. But this was the scene after it was ravaged by howling winds as Irma crashed into the island on Wednesday

'We were in our apartment and the storms was approaching and it was hours and hours away. The concrete building we wer in literally shook.

'The windows were torn out like paper and cars were flying through the air. Cars were on fire and fires were breaking out all over the place.

Everything went silent when the eye of the storm was over us. It is hell. It is like the worst disaster movie. But it's real.

'Hollywood could not recreate this. Everything has gone. Nobody is safe right now.'

And they are living in fear of being hit by another hurricane in the next two days.

Martin appealed to the British Government to send ships to help the area.

He said they needed a Dunkirk style armada of big ships and little ships to get people to safety. 

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