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‘It has been brutal’ – Prime Minister Skerrit

A visibly emotional Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica, briefed the world on Thursday about the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria which directly hit the island on Monday evening.

The island is now under a state of emergency and a curfew is imposed.

“It has been brutal,” he said on a live programme hosted at ABSTV studios in Antigua and Barbuda. The Prime Minister had earlier flown into Antigua and Barbuda from Dominica where he also held a Town Hall Meeting with Dominicans living there.

“It was almost complete devastation. Every village in Dominica, every street, every cranny, every person in Dominica was impacted by the hurricane. We have no running water now, no electricity. We have very limited telecommunication services by Whatsapp mainly; all of the telecommunication services are down. Private homes ave been damaged, some beyond any form of repair – all flat on their faces. Many of our schools have been destroyed. Our main hospital is with no electricity now. They've been running very, very difficult operations with no generators.  The generators had to be set aside because of the flooding… Nurses have been working the last 96 hours non-stop trying to provide care to the patients… Communication to many parts of the country is impossible. We will have to access villages by sea and also by helicopter,” the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Skerrit has been conducting aerial surveys of the island over the past two days. He said that the country's main preoccupation now was search and rescue and providing relief via essential supplies. He underlined the need for beds and bedding, hygiene kits, water and food supplies, baby supplies, tarpaulins, as well as helicopter services, especially for airlifting supplies to communities, and for medical evacuations, given the requirements of patients and the fact that the intensive care unit of the hospital was destroyed.

While there is as yet no official tally of fatalities, the Prime Minister said that many residents had died as a result of the hurricane – more than 15 people were buried so far. It would be a miracle if there were no more fatalities, he said. Many others were unaccounted for. For example, he said, in one village alone, 13 persons were missing.

The Prime Minister welcomed the support from the Caribbean “family” and the rest of the world. “Every single country” in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have responded to the situation in Dominica, he said.

“The world is mobilising to assist us,” he said, and added that they would need all the assistance the world could offer as Dominica embarked on “a long and difficult journey”.

The Prime Minister said he travels to the United Nations (UN) on Friday to make an address to the UN General Assembly and to hold discussions with the UN Secretary-General to outline how the international community could render assistance.

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