Hurricane Irma – fears grow for pregnant British mum, 27, and beauty queen sister, 29, after Caribbean mega-storm kills at least eight

FEARS are growing for a pregnant British mum and her sister who were sheltering on the devastated island of Barbuda.

The tiny Caribbean island was almost entirely destroyed when Hurricane Irma smashed through the region overnight.

 Afiya Frank, who is seven months pregnant, was caught up in the hurricane
 Her sister Asha Frank has also failed to make contact with her family
 Aerial images how the island of Barbuda was left almost entirely destroyed

Afiya Frank, 27, and former beauty queen and Miss Antigua Asha Frank, 29, from Suffolk, have not been heard of since around 10.30pm last night.

Their auntie Ruth Bolton told The Mirror: "They had boarded up the house that my sister had just finished building with wood and stocked up on water etc.

"They are always well prepared for storms in Barbuda. It's a brick house and hopefully stood some of the storm.

"We had contact till about 10.30 pm our time last night via What's App and then that was it. Nothing since and no way to find out how they are.

"I just want to hug my nieces and speak to them."

Aifya, who is seven months pregnant, was due to fly back to the UK next week to to give birth. Asha was on the island helping with emergency work, the paper reported.

 Asha, a former beauty queen and Miss Antigua, was reportedly on the island helping with emergency work
 Homes and building lie ruined in the wake of the devastating hurricane
 The heavy rains and wind of hurricane Irma cross through the northeastern part of the island in Fajardo, Puerto Rico
 The US territory was first to declare a state of emergency last Monday, as the National Hurricane Center forecast that the storm would strike the Island Wednesday
 Projected path before Dominican Republic. Hurricane Irma intensified into a strong and 'potentially catastrophic' category 5 storm
 Flooded houses in Gustavia on the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Barthelemy in the Caribbean following hurricane Irma
 Hurricane Irma slams Caribbean as Category 5 storm in St Martin
 Wreckage in a street of Gustavia on the French overseas island of Saint-Barts in the Caribbean following Hurricane Irma
 Pleasure craft lie crammed against the shore in Paraquita Bay as the eye of Hurricane Irma passed Tortola, British Virgin Islands
 Satellite image released by NASA shows Hurricane Irma reaches Puerto Rico on Wednesday
 Members of the civil defence run as Hurricane Irma howls past Puerto Rico
 A man carrying an umbrella walks on a street in Puerto Rico
 Hurricane Irma sowed a trail of deadly devastation through the Caribbean, reducing to rubble the tropical islands of Barbuda and St Martin
 A car was left upside down amid the devastation as Hurricane Irma smashed in St Martin

Barbuda, part of the twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, suffered "enormous catastrophe" with 95 per cent of properties damaged, and up to 30 percent demolished, according to Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

He added: "Barbuda now is literally rubble."

One person is known to have died on the island of 1,600 residents, apparently a child whose family was trying to get to safer ground.

The news comes as two terrifying storms have formed in the Atlantic after Hurricane Irma smashed through the Caribbean killing at least four.


Currently east of Imra is Hurricane Jose, which has strengthening winds of 75mph and could change course to threaten the US mainland, according to meteorologists.

Hurricane Katia, which has similar strengths winds to Jose, has formed the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and has sparked panic in the Mexican state of Veracruz.

At least eight reported killed – a two-year-old child in Barbuda, one person in Anguilla, and six in the French part of St Martin.

It is feared the death toll will rise as the unprecedented hurricane continues towards Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Florida.

 Hurricanes Jose and Katia are located to east and west respectively of deadly monster storm Imra in the Atlantic
 Hurricane Irma, a record Category 5 storm, is seen approaching Puerto Rico in this NASA's GOES-16 satellite image
 NASA's International Space Station shows the eye of Hurricane Irma in the Atlantic Ocean
 Shocking images reveal the devastation after Hurricane Irma lashed St Martin
 A flooded street on the French overseas island of St Martin, after high winds from Hurricane Irma hit the island
 Two people have died after the record-breaking storm swept through St Martin and St Barts
 The most powerful Atlantic Ocean storm ever recorded wreaked havoc on the holiday island of St Martin
 The category five hurricane caused widespread destruction in several Caribbean islands, including St Martin
 Dramatic images show how the "potentially catastrophic" storm has damaged buildings
 A truck destroyed by the monster storm pictured on the island of St Martin
 Flooding as Hurricane Irma hit St Martin in the French Caribbean
 A street is flooded during Hurricane Imra in Fajardo, Puerto Rico
 Debris is pictured during a storm surge near the Puerto Chico Harbor
 Mangled wreckage pictured at Princess Juliana Airport in St Martin
 A rescue worker pictured at the beleaguered travel hub
 The devastation inside the airport following the monster storm
 A flooded street in Marigot, St Martin
 Powerful storms pictured sweeping through Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Barbuda was without communications for hours after a direct hit with the monster Category Five storm – which is estimated to be the size of France.

President Gaston Browne said during a press conference that more than 90 per cent of structures on the island were destroyed.

Irma was packing maximum sustained winds of up to 185 mph as it followed a projected path that would see it hit Puerto Rico, the northern edges of the Dominican Republic and Haiti and eastern Cuba.

 Two people have died after the powerful hurricane ripped through the Caribbean
 Pictures show dangerous flood waters tearing through an apartment building
 An entire street is completely destroyed on one Caribbean island

The powerful storm is then expected to veer north towards south Florida.

US President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the sunshine state where he said the outlook was "not good."

Dramatic images show how the "potentially catastrophic" storm has damaged buildings and caused major flooding, with cars seen completely submerged.

Londoner Alex Woolfall has posted a series of panicked tweets from the island of St Martin, describing how he has been forced to hide in concrete stairwell of building.

He tweeted: “Evacuated & everyone now hiding in concrete stairwell of building. Noise of wind insane. Pray this will end soon!

“In St Martin & building shaking and howling winds. Scary stuff but still have power. #Irma2017.

“Okay I am now pretty terrified so can every non-believer, atheist & heretic please pray for me in #StMaarten as #Irma2017 is here now.

“May be my last tweet as power out and noise now apocalyptic. This is like a movie I never want to see. #Irma2017 #StMaarten.”

 Horrific pictures show the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma on St Martin island
 The 185mph winds and rains sparked widespread flooding on St Martin
 The French interior ministry has said four government buildings on St Martin have been destroyed

He described the noise as being like a “jet engine” with constant “booms and bangs”.

“Still thunderous sonic boom noises outside & boiling in stairwell. Can feel scream of things being hurled against building. #HurricaineIrma,” he added.

The French interior ministry has said four government buildings on St Martin have been destroyed and the island has "lost contact with Paris".

Donald Trump's £21.5million mansion is also believed to be in the direct path of the hurricane.

Ahead of a meeting with Congressional leaders yesterday, Trump said he feared the storm looks like "something that could be not good".

Trump said: "We'll see what happens."

"It looks like it could be something that could be not good, believe me not good," he added.

 Londoner Alex Woolfall has posted a series of panicked tweets from the island of St Martin
 Victoria Adams, 23, from London, is trying to leave the Turks and Caicos Islands
 The Londoner shared a series of tweets about the hurricane
 Newlywed Laura Carr has been trapped in the Dominican Republic on her honeymoon

The US President also tweeted, saying: "Hurricane looks like largest ever recorded in the Atlantic!"

He added: "Watching Hurricane closely. My team, which has done, and is doing, such a good job in Texas, is already in Florida. No rest for the weary!"

Hundreds of Brits have been scrambling to get last-minute flights after cutting their trips short.

Brit Laura Carr told SunOnline she feels “trapped” in the Dominican Republic because British Airways has not organised any emergency flights.

The newlywed, from Essex, was enjoying her honeymoon when she was warned about the approaching monster storm.

She tried to organise a flight back to the UK, but was told there would be no planes leaving yesterday.

“We are very scared. We feel trapped,” she told SunOnline.

“The winds are getting stronger and the hotel is like a ghost town. All the sun loungers have been cleared and most of the hotel has shut down.

 Brit Alison Strand is facing dangerous conditions on the island of Anguilla

“We have now just been told we are being evacuated from our hotel. We have no idea where we are going other than to a hotel on the south of the island.”

Victoria Adams, 23, from London, is trying to leave the Turks and Caicos Islands amid the intensifying storm.

“I am so, so scared right now,” senior public affairs account executive Ms Adams told the Standard. “I can’t even get on a flight anymore, they’re all fully booked.

“My only option now is to go to the airport when it opens and pray a seat on any flight opens up.

“I don’t know what to do if I have to stay – beyond stay on high ground and barricade the windows.”

 The Virgin boss was pictured playing dice with his Necker Island staff members as Hurricane Irma raged across the Caribbean
 Sir Richard Branson had a sleepover in two rooms with his staff
 His team shared pictures of the preparations for the devastating storm

A British Airways spokesman said: "We laid on a special flight from Antigua on Tuesday to get as many customers home as possible before the hurricane arrived on the island, and have managed to rebook many others across the Caribbean islands onto flights out of the area with alternative carriers.

"We are closely monitoring developments in the region and are in regular contact with holidaymakers there to ensure they are safe and being well looked after by their hotel management."

Alison Strand, originally from Staffordshire, has spent several hours putting defences on her home on the island of Anguilla.

"Our house is 5m (15ft) above sea level and we're expecting 8m swells, so we're just crossing our fingers," she said. "We are expecting to lose our wooden roof."

Brit Carolyne Coleby, who runs a guest house on the island of Montserrat, said locals are trying to secure their houses.

She said: "The winds are starting to pick up and the clouds are coming in.

"It's going to be the strongest hurricane ever to cross the Atlantic. I've no idea what to expect."

Brit holidaymakers have been urged to follow any evacuation orders and expats have barricaded their homes as the monster storm continued on a devastating path towards the US.

There have been no confirmed reports of serious injuries or casualties so far.

 Irma lashed several Caribbean islands with winds of 185 mph yesterday
 Hurricane Irma is the second most powerful storm ever

The eye of Hurricane Irma passed over Barbuda in the early hours of this morning, the National Weather Service said.

Residents said over local radio that phone lines went down as the hurricane raged across the island with winds of 185 mph and gusts of 218 mph.

Heavy rain and howling winds slammed the neighbouring island of Antigua, sending debris flying as people huddled in their homes or government shelters.

"We are hunkered down and it is very windy … the wind is a major threat," said Garfield Burford, the director of news at ABS TV and Radio on the island of Antigua, south of Barbuda.

"So far, some roofs have been blown off."

Officials warned people to seek protection from Irma's "onslaught" in a statement that closed with: "May God protect us all."

 A bungalow has been tied up and protected by a sand seawall on a beach as part of the preparations for Hurricane Irma
 People carry bottles of water to a shelter in the Caribbean city
 Stronger winds have been felt in Puerto Rico ahead of the worst of the storm
 Dramatic images show the storm bearing down on Baie Nettle beach in Marigot

St Barthelemy has also been bulldozed by the hurricane, with the entire island being plunged into a total electricity blackout.

Residents have described how the roofs of their homes have been blown off. The fire station has also been flooded.

Electricity is also partially down on the island of Guadeloupe, where the threat receded despite danger of heavy flooding.

French minister for overseas territories Annick Girardin expressed fear "for a certain number of our compatriots who unfortunately didn't want to listen to the protection measures and go to more secure sites."

She added: "We're preparing for the worst."

The category five hurricane is churning along a path pointing to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly heading for Florida over the weekend.

It may soon be followed by Hurricane Jose which has formed in its wake.

Streets and supermarket shelves have been left deserted and residents have packed sandbags and barricaded their homes as preparations are made for the storm to strike.

Red alerts have now been issued for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Leeward, St Martin, St Barthelemy, Saba, St Eustatius, Puerto Rico and both the Virgin Islands.

 Hurricane Irma is expected to cause widespread damage
 Beaches in the Caribbean have been deserted
 Empty BA jets have been flown to the Caribbean to bring Brit holidaymakers home

Brit billionaire Sir Richard Branson has decided to ride out the storm at his private Necker Island – even through the eye of the storm is heading straight for it.

His staff shared footage of the preparations for the monster storm which is expected to lash the British Virgin Islands yesterday.

Brit holidaymakers in the Turks and Caicos Islands have spoken of their fears after getting "stranded" because airlines have refused to change their flights.

Theresa Sanderson tweeted: "We are a family stuck here in Turks and Caicos BA have left us to try live through the worst storm ever recorded".

Mass evacuations in Florida are expected to start yesterday after a state of emergency was declared.

Brit holidaymakers fear the raging storm may force Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando to close.

Guests have also been left disappointed after three cruises on the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream ships were cancelled.

If Irma makes a landfall in Florida it will be the second powerful storm to hit the US mainland in two weeks after Hurricane Harvey caused widespread devastation.

Are you or your family trapped in the Caribbean because of Hurricane Irma? Email

People who live on the islands will be flown Wednesday to Nassau on the island of New Providence. Minnis says it will be the largest hurricane evacuation in the history of the Bahamas.

In Puerto Rico, the country's main electricity provider has warned the island could be left without power for up to six months.

The US  National Hurricane Centre (NHC) has warned gusts are hitting 190mph over the Atlantic.

 Residents work together to fill sandbags in preparation for the storm
 Residents in St. Petersburg, Florida, are bracing themselves ahead of the storm

British Airways flew an empty plane from London to Antigua to bring back stranded tourists and cancelled two flights.

The full flight of 326 passengers touched down in the UK on Tuesday evening.

More than 100 Virgin Atlantic passengers left five hours earlier from Antigua and made a unplanned stop in St Lucia to join an earlier service back to Gatwick.

Thomas Cook said the storm was ‘very unpredictable’ and that it was monitoring it closely.

Briton Carolyne Coleby, who runs a guest house on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, said locals were desperately trying to secure their houses with boards and remove any potential debris from outside spaces.

She said: "The winds are starting to pick up and the clouds are coming in.

"We had a sunny morning but the storm's definitely on its way – it's going to be spectacularly unpleasant.

"People are now just boarding up and clearing their gardens of any potential flying objects.

"I had a sleepless night. I was very worried – I spent the night on the internet.

"It's going to be the strongest hurricane ever to cross the Atlantic. I've no idea what to expect."

People across the Caribbean boarded up homes and rushed to find last-minute supplies, forming long lines outside supermarkets and gas stations.

Vivian Wheatley, owner of the Anegada Reef Hotel, in Antigua said:  "We know it's a very powerful and we know it's going to be very close. Let's hope for the best."

The warnings come as residents in Texas and Louisiana are still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Harvey, which struck as a category four storm, causing heavy rain and destroying thousands of homes.

Irma is predicted to cause rainfall of up to 25cm (10in) and raise water levels by up to 3m (9ft) above normal levels.

The NHC predicts "near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves."

More than 29 million tourists visit the Caribbean every year – including 1.1m Brits and 14m Americans.

Do you know anyone or have you and your family been affected by Hurricane Irma? Email or call 0207 782 4368


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