All eyes on Hurricane Jose after Irma caused "massive destruction": Dutch PM Rutte

Hurricane Irma passes over the Virgin Islands after Sint Maarten
Satellite image shows the eye of Hurricane Irma passing over the British Virgin Islands, 175 km west of St. MaartenNOAA

The Kingdom of the Netherlands was hit hard by Hurricane Irma, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a press conference after a crisis meeting about emergency relief for the islands of Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius on Thursday morning, reports. The government is very concerned about Hurricane Jose, which may hit the Dutch islands on Saturday. 

"We discussed what measures we should take. Communication is very limited, but so far it seems there were no fatalities on Saba and Saint Eustatius", the Prime Minister said. "There is still no news about potential victims on Sint Maarten." Ten people were killed on Saint Martin, the French side of the island.

"There is massive destruction to the infrastructure; houses are underwater and cars are floating through the streets. There is a great need for food and water. Unfortunately, the island is not yet accessible due to devastation at the airport and the port." About an hour ago the Royal Navy said that the Sint Maarten is still unreachable, but the runway seems to be undamaged. 

"The priority now is to get food and water for the 40 thousand people on the island", Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs said. "On Thursday a plane will fly to Sint Maarten with soldiers on board, who can provide emergency relief. There is support for maintaining public order and security." Plasterk could not confirm reports of plundering on Sint Maarten. 

According to Rutte, the Netherlands had been preparing for Hurricane Irma for weeks. "This is a hurricane of epic size." he said. "The emphasis now is on drinking water, food, safety and infrastructure."

Two ships with emergency supplies are underway to Sint Maarten. The first is set to arrive at 2:00 p.m., Dutch time, the second at 5:00 p.m. 

The Prime Minister finished by calling on the public to donate to Giro 5125, which the Red Cross created for victims of Hurricane Irma. "As is known, the Red Cross opened a Giro number to support hurricane victims, and I call on everyone to assist our fellow citizens from the Kingdom on the other side of the ocean."