UN sending aid to Irma’s Caribbean victims

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Irma’s devastation in the Caribbean (all times local):

1:50 p.m.

The United Nations says it’s airlifting food to Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric says the World Food Program is flying in some 20 metric tons of high-energy biscuits, enough to feed nearly 17,000 people for three days. They’ll go to a newly established hub in Antigua, where the population of Barbuda has been evacuated, and to nearby St. Martin.

He says that will be followed by “cash-based assistance” for some 20,000 people on islands in the eastern Caribbean whose livelihoods have been ruined.

Dujarric told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York on Tuesday that WFP is also launching an emergency operation in western Caribbean islands including the Turks and Caicos, which is serving as an operational hub.

Dujarric said the U.N. is also airlifting other crucial items including mobile storage units, tarpaulins, prefab housing, generators and other logistics and telecommunications support equipment.

He said WFP has also offered to provide food and logistical assistance to Cuba where the agency’s Executive Director David Beasley hopes to visit this week.

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12:45 p.m.

The Dutch Red Cross says 90 percent of buildings in Dutch St. Maarten were damaged and a third destroyed as Hurricane Irma roared across the Caribbean island it shares with French St. Martin.

Red Cross officials say more than 200 people are still listed as missing as people on the island try to clean up a week after the storm hit.

Authorities are still trying to get a complete picture of the damage. The Red Cross said Tuesday that it will use drones to help assess the situation and has brought in extra staff to help register victims for assistance.

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11:50 a.m.

The Dutch Red Cross says some 90 percent of buildings on the Dutch side of St. Maarten suffered damage during Hurricane Irma.

The agency said Tuesday it made the determination after studying aerial photographs of the island after the storm.

As of Tuesday, there are 450 Dutch troops helping out on the island and another 150 on their way, mainly to maintain law and order and to help repair vital infrastructure.

Gen. Maj. Richard Oppelaar says troops are focused in particular on distributing water — both bottled and via trucks at distribution points.

Hans Leijtens is the civil servant put in charge of the Dutch end of hurricane recovery. He says that there were some delays in…

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