Indian missions in touch with diaspora over Irma damage

With Hurricane Irma leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, India has asked its missions in Venezuela, the US and in the Netherlands and France whose territories in the Caribbean have been hit hard to remain in constant touch with the Indian diaspora there.

“Our Missions in Venezuela, Netherlands, France & US are constantly monitoring the situation following destruction due to hurricane IRMA,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

“They are in constant touch with the Indian diaspora affected by IRMA & with local govt officials to provide all possible assistance,” he said.

Kumar also shared emergency numbers in the Indian Embassies in Venezuela (+58 4241951854/4142214721), Netherlands (+31 247247247) and France (0800000971) for those affected to get in touch with.

At least 24 people were killed this week when Irma pummelled northern Caribbean islands such as Barbuda and the Virgin Islands.

France and the Netherlands said they had sent aid to islands such as Saint Martin, which is said to be “95 percent destroyed”. Saint Martin island is split in two with a French northern part and the Dutch owning the south.

The Red Cross estimates 1.2 million people have already been battered by the storm.

Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy in Netherlands issued a separate message saying the Netherlands government, in cooperation with Britain and France, was actively engaged in efforts to ensure safety and disaster relief.

“We are in constant touch with the Dutch Government which has informed us that the Dutch military is providing water, food and other disaster relief items,” it said. “The Dutch Military police are assisting the local police to avoid looting.”

According to the message, the Indian Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, is also monitoring the situation in St. Martin and coordinating the welfare of all Indians living there.

“We are in constant touch with our Ambassador of India in Venezuela,” it stated.

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to travel to France’s Caribbean territories “as soon as possible” to oversee relief efforts, while the Dutch government is holding a crisis meeting about the damages to its territories.

Damages and casualties have also been reported in the French island of Saint-Barthelemy.

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