Government is working to evacuate TT nationals who have been stranded in St Maarten and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) as a result of the passage of Hurricane Irma through these islands.
A statement issued yesterday by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) said Government's efforts are being coordinated by the National Security Ministry and the Foreign and Caricom Affairs Ministries. The OPM said Government in conjunction with the Antigua and Barbuda government and this country's National Helicopter Services Limited (NHSL), "as made arrangements to attempt to air lift our nationals, who have provided us with their information, from St Maarten today (yesterday)."
The OPM said, "It is envisaged that we will airlift our identified nationals from St Maarten to Antigua during the course of today. " The OPM also said an official request is being made to the British government with respect to evacuating TT nationals in the BVI. Sunday Newsday reported the story of members of the Ramtoole family who were stranded in Tortola in the BVI as a result of Irma.
The OPM said further information will be provided as it becomes available. The OPM advised members of the public to contact the Foreign and Caricom Affairs Ministry's hotline 868-715-2154, immediately regarding any information with respect to our nationals in St Maarten and the BVI as,"we are implementing plans."
In separate statement, the Foreign and Caricom Affairs Ministry said Acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert and its acting line minister Stuart Young took part in Saturday's emergency Caricom Heads of Government Conference to assess the impact of Irma on Caricom states and territories and the wider Caribbean region. Imbert advised regional leaders the NHSL assigned a helicopter temporarily to Antigua and Barbuda to assist in relief efforts there. The helicopter was withdrawn because of the approach of Hurricane Jose but Imbert said, it is on standby to return.
Leaders were briefed by representatives of the Regional Security System, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, Caribbean Public Health Agency and the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, on the region's response to the natural disaster The ministry said TT was now able to have a better understanding of the extent of the damage.
The ministry said this information would enable the provision of appropriate support to TT nationals, as well as air, maritime assets and other support. Regional leaders were given a commitment that they would be apprised at the soonest possible time of the comprehensive response to be given.