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  1. ITV Report

British response 'found wanting' as military joins Hurricane Irma relief effort

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

The Armed Forces have been deployed to help with the relief effort in the Caribbean following devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma, amid criticism of the British government's response.

In a letter, two leading MPs said the government had been "found wanting".

At least 14 people have been killed so far with thousands of buildings destroyed and warnings of further storm surges to come.

Medical supplies and other aid are to be flown to the worst affected areas today following a pledge from the British Government of £32 million towards the relief effort.

Aid shipments are landed on the beach at Anguilla Credit: Ministry of Defence

A naval ship and its helicopters have already been helping to distribute aid on the British island of Anguilla, and the Navy's flagship carrier HMS Ocean has been diverted to join the relief effort.

But, in a letter to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the chairs of the Commons Foreign Affairs and the International Development Committee said the response still "requires improvement".

Tom Tugendhat and Stephen Twigg said they expected the government to help in the reconstruction of communities, as well as form a plan to help the region prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Jose.

Jose was upgraded to a Category Four storm on Friday, and is set to bring more misery to the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean islands.

A Royal Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, waiting to be loaded up with supplies Credit: PA

They wrote:

While we welcome the increase in funding for disaster relief in the British Overseas Territories to £32 million and the fact that personnel, equipment and the RFA Mounts Bay were dispatched to the area before the hurricane struck, arriving in Anguilla the day after its devastation, we are concerned that many in the UK's overseas territories in the Caribbean are still in grave need.

In Anguilla, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Turks and Caicos, our response still requires improvement and the arrival of HMS Ocean in two weeks' time will be later than any of us would wish.

We do recognise that information and analysis is required to tailor a proportion of the relief sent to meet conditions on the ground but there are also predictable needs and demands in such circumstances.

– Tom Tugendhat and Stephen Twigg

When questioned about the speed of response from the UK government, Foreign secretary Boris Johnson said the government was "doing everything is possibly can to help those affected".

And Theresa May, addressing concerns about the speed of Britain's response, added: "We have taken action, we moved swiftly, there are people on the ground, £32 million has been released.

"The Royal Fleets Auxiliary ship - RFA Mounts Bay - is in position providing assistance from Royal Marines and army engineers and a task group, a military task group, is on its way on HMS Ocean with several hundred UK troops."

She added the Government would "continue to do what is needed and provide what is necessary" as the storm progresses towards the US