People on the hurricane battered British Virgin Islands are being warned of a “high risk” of further damage as a second major storm bears down on the Caribbean.
Hurricane Maria strengthened into a potentially catastrophic category five storm bringing winds of up to 160 mph as it hit landfall on the island of Dominica.
The island’s airport and ports were shut while nearby Martinique declared a maximum-level alert and Guadeloupe ordered evacuations.
Hurricane warnings are also in place for Puerto Rico, St Kitts and Nevis, Monserrat and St Lucia while hurricane watches are in place for the US Virgin Islands, St Martin, Saba, St Eustatius and Anguilla.
Airports were shut yesterday on St Lucia, Antigua and St Kitts, triggering disruption to the Caribbean flight schedules of airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to advise against all travel to the British Virgin Islands.
“Hurricane Maria is expected to make landfall on the BVI on Tuesday or Wednesday. Following the extensive damage caused by hurricane Irma, there is a high risk of further severe damage. Coastal flooding is also highly likely.
“If you are in the BVI, you should identify shelter immediately and be ready to take cover when the hurricane approaches,” the FCO warned.
“If you are currently outside BVI, you should not return to the territory at this time.
“The local authorities have introduced a curfew from 6pm on Monday until the all clear is given following Hurricane Maria.”
The FCO also issued an alert over Hurricane Maria being forecast to bring “hazardous sea and weather conditions” to parts of the eastern Caribbean including St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Maarten.
A BA flight to St Lucia diverted to Port of Spain in Trinidad yesterday, a service to Antigua today will operate direct to Tobago instead and a flight to St Kitts tomorrow is planned to fly to Antigua only. The airline has laid on an extra flight to St Kitts on Thursday.
A Thursday flight to Providenciales on the Turks and Caicos Islands will go to Antigua only due to forecast weather conditions and likely airport closure.
BA flights to and from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic have been cancelled on Thursday because it is “highly likely” the airport will be shut due to the hurricane. An extra flight from Punta Cana to Gatwick has been scheduled for tomorrow.
“We are reviewing the status of Sunday’s BA2205 and BA2204 to and from Punta Cana and will provide an update on Friday,” the airline said.
BA added: “Hurricane Maria is heading towards several destinations in the Caribbean. We are in regular contact with our teams in the region and airport partners as the storm approaches and are keeping our schedule under review.”
Virgin Atlantic cancelled a flight from Gatwick to St Lucia yesterday.
Elite Island Resorts has vowed to match donations up to $100,000 to rebuild lives in Barbuda which was devastated by Hurricane Irma.
Launching a fund-raising campaign, the company said the hotels it represents in Antigua, including St James’s Club & Villas, The Verandah Resort & Spa, Pineapple Beach Club and Galley Bay Resort & Spa, have all committed to the donation matching campaign.
They have also committed to donating a further $100,000 in cash and emergency supplies, along with local grocery store, Epicurean Fine Foods & Pharmacy.
Nearly every home and building on Barbuda suffered severe damage, including schools, medical facilities, homes, and businesses.
“The people of Barbuda are strong, wonderful human beings. They will rebuild, and Barbuda will be better than ever, but they need your help, Elite Island Resorts said.
“100% of the funds we raise and donate will go towards specific, critical projects like rebuilding schools, medical facilities, and housing.
“Please open your hearts to those who have opened their hearts to you by providing you with wonderful Caribbean hospitality. Now is your chance to make a real, tangible difference in the lives of those affected by Hurricane Irma.”
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