As Hurricane Irma continues churning its way towards the Bahamas, with its sights set on southern Florida this weekend, startling new images show the devastation the deadly storm has left in its wake on more than a half-dozen Caribbean islands.
The hurricane took a particularly heavy toll on the French-Dutch island of Saint Martin, where homes, stores, ports, airports, gas stations and power stations were left in shambles after Irma made landfall there as a Category 5 hurricane on Tuesday, packing winds of up to 185mph.
Gnarled black branches of leafless trees, street after street now littered with piles of corrugated tin, plywood, wrought iron, battered cars and unidentifiable objects that were once parts of someone’s life.
The Dutch government on Friday raised its estimate of casualties caused on the Dutch part of the island to two dead, one of natural causes, and 43 wounded.
Of those wounded, 11 are in critical condition, Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said at a press conference.
Two hundred Dutch soldiers are assisting on the island from two nearby ships as it struggles to restore its airport and main harbor in order so that it can receive more aid.
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said on Friday nine people were killed, at least seven were missing, and 112 others were injured in St. Barthelemy and the French part of Saint Martin.
Ground Zero: A photo taken on September 7 shows devastating damage in Orient Bay on the French Caribbean island of Saint Martin, which took a direct hit from Irma this week
View of the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Sint Maarten – the Dutch part of Saint Martin island – in the Caribbean, taken on Thursday
People survey damage in Marigot, near the Bay of Nettle, on the island of Saint Martin in the northeast Caribbean, after the passage of Hurricane Irma
Heavy toll: Saint Martin is the worst affected so far by the storm, which killed four people and injuried dozens more
A photo taken on September 7 shows damage in Orient Bay on the French side of Saint-Martin after the passage of Hurricane Irma
Piles of rubble mixed in with tree branches are seen where once buildings had stood in Marigot, Saint Martin
A hotel in Marigot, Saint Martin, is pictured with large sections of its roof missing in the wak of Hurricane Irma
A helicopter is flying over a building that has been torn to shreds by the monster storm that made landfall on September 5
Firefighters are seeing working near a severely damaged building in Grand-Case on Saint Martin Thursday
A picture taken on September 7, 2017 shows inhabitants of the Sandytown neighborhood in Marigot, Saint Martin, clearing debris in a street
A picture taken on September 7 shows ravaged houses on the shoreline of Marigot on the French Carribean island of Saint-Martin, after the passage of Hurricane Irma
A Dutch soldier patrols the visibly damaged streets of Saint Martin after Hurricane Irma
The tiny eastern Caribbean island of Barbuda, where one person died, was reduced ‘to rubble’, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said. The storm flattened nearly 95 per cent of all structures on the island, and there were more bad news for the battered landmass in the form of Hurricane Jose, which is expected to make landfall on Saturday, bringing winds of up to 150 mph.
In the British overseas territory of Anguilla, another person was killed and the hospital, airport and power and phone services were damaged, emergency service officials said.
Irma was the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and one of the five most forceful storms to hit the Atlantic basin in 82 years, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
In this Thursday photo, a building is seen stripped down to the beams on the hard-hit island of Barbuda
The storm killed one person on Barbuda and flattened nearly 95 per cent of all structures on the eastern Caribbean island
Hurricane Jose is expected to make landfall on the storm-ravaged Barbuda on Saturday, bringing winds of up to 150 mph.
Piles of debris are seen on Barbuda on Thursday, just days after the catastrophic storm
An undated handout picture acquired from the facebook account of Hubert Haciski on September 8 shows a boat resting on its side on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, after it was hit by Hurricane Irma
Tree branches, street signs and poles are seen littering a road in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, in the wake of Irma
The next big one: A satellite map show Jose, now a Category 4 hurricane, churning on Friday afternoon 380 miles away from the northern Leeward Islands in the Atlantic
In Jose’s cross-hairs: The map charts Jose’s course, which will take it to Guadalupe and San Juan
Under threat: Barbuda, Antigua and Anguilla are under hurricane watch. St Thomas is under tropical storm watch, as of Friday afternoon
Downgraded to a Category 4 hurricane, Irma pummeled the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday after saturating the northern edges of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
The frightful storm then took aim at the southeastern Bahamas, where 20-foot storm surges are expected.
While Irma continues to wreak havoc in the Caribbean, before making a turn towards Florida and Georgia, Hurricane Jose is now following close in its wake.
On Friday, Jose strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane in the central Atlantic. A hurricane watch is in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Dutch Sint Maarten, French Caribbean Saint Martin and St. Barthelemy.
A tropical storm warning is also in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and Sint Maarten.
A tropical storm watch has been issued for Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, the British Virgin Islands, St. Thomas and St. John.
Hurricane Irma devastation is seen on the French Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy
Monster winds accompanying Irma ripped off roofs and toppled trees on Saint Barthelemy in the Caribbean
Saint Bathelemy has sustained dramatic damage as a result of the Category 5 hurricane
A new hurricane watch is in effect for Saint Barth’s, now that Jose has strengthened to a Category 4 storm
A car is pictured resting upside down next to a battered home on a cliff in Saint Barth’s after the storm