Royal Marines hunt ‘feral’ British Virgin Islands prisoners

British expat says Hurricane Irma has left region in state of anarchy

British Royal Navy ship HMS Ocean 

Dozens of high-security prisoners are roaming free on the British Virgin Islands, and expats have begun carrying knives, claiming “everyone’s turned feral” following last week’s devastating category 5 hurricane.

Around 40 high-risk inmates are still on the run after a prison was breached when Hurricane Irma hit the British overseas territory last week, Vice News reports.

Nearly 1,000 Royal Marines and 47 British police officers are trying to restore law and order, in addition to protecting the BVI governor and searching for escaped prisoners, the Daily Express reports.

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A state of emergency has been declared in the territory, formerly a playground for offshore bankers and yacht racers, and some desperate residents are arming themselves for protection.

British expat Claudia Knight, who ran an arts school on the island of Tortola, returned to the UK before the storm took hold, but told Metro that her partner was stranded there and had begun carrying a knife because “everyone’s turned feral”.

At least five people are known to have died in the BVI, and four more on the neighbouring British territory Anguilla. The final death toll is expected to rise, with more bodies being recovered daily and communication systems still knocked out in some areas.

Hurricane Irma is believed to have killed a total of at least 80 people across the Caribbean and in the southern US states of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Eight Florida nursing home residents died when their residence lost power, the BBC reports.

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Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrived in the Caribbean on Tuesday amid criticism of UK relief efforts.

Although the UK has sent military personnel, police and the Royal Navy’s HMS Ocean packed with emergency supplies to the affected areas, the British overseas territories of Anguilla, the BVI, and the Turks and Caicos islands cannot access the UK’s £13bn foreign aid budget, because they are deemed “too wealthy” - despite the loss of lives, homes and businesses, says the Daily Mail.

Entrepreneur Richard Branson, who owns the island of Necker in the BVI, says more help is needed, but that the people of the region “continue to be incredibly positive and resilient”.

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