Dutch ministers to discuss aid for Hurricane Irma hit islands in crisis meeting

Ronald Plasterk (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)Ronald Plasterk (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)

The Dutch Ministers involved in providing aid to the islands affected by Hurricane Irma on Wednesday, are meeting in the National Crisis Center in The Hague at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. The main purpose of this meeting is to map what aid exactly the islands of Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius need, Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs and Kingdom relations said to broadcaster NOS.

The Ministers intend to send more supplies and peoples to the islands before the second hurricane, Jose, is expected to hit on Saturday. For that it is essential that the airport on Sint Maarten is opened as quickly as possible, according to Plasterk. Both the airport and the harbor were unreachable on Thursday morning, Lieutenant at sea Egbert Stoel previously said to NOS.

The crisis meeting will be led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte. In addition to Plasterk, Ministers Stef Blok of Security and Justice, Jeanine Hennis Plasschaert of Defense, Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs and Melanie Schutlz van Haegen of Infrastructure and Environment will also attend. 

At this point it is known that Hurricane Irma killed at least 6 people on the French side of Sint Maarten and that there were no casualties on Saba. Whether anyone was killed on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten or on Sint Eustatius is unknown, as little communication is possible with the islands. According to Plaster, the communication comes in "waves" and the government therefore only has a partial picture of what is going on. 

According to the commander of naval ship Zr.Ms. Zeeland, who had a helicopter fly over the islands to assess the damage, Sint Maarten sustained "massive material damage". The damage to Saba and Saint Eustatius is less severe.