The Caribbean island of Barbuda has been almost entirely wiped out by Hurricane Irma, with “90 per cent” of all buildings destroyed.
The devastating news was confirmed by an emotional President Gaston Browne to local TV and radio station ABS.
“It is a total devastation – Barbuda now is literally a rubble,” he said.
He also confirmed that tragically a child died after her mother tried to escape a damaged home.
Miraculously, this is believed to be the only death on an island with a population of around 1,600.
Just hours earlier, Browne had put out a statement saying neighbouring island Antigua had “weathered the most powerful hurricane ever to storm its way through the Caribbean”.
He said no lives had been lost, infrastructure had “stood up” and that “our country can resume normal life within hours”.
But Browne had not visited or heard from Barbuda, which lies less than 40 miles north, at this point.
And it appears Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm with 185mph winds, has caused far more destruction.
President Browne told ABS News: “The entire housing stock is damaged”.
“The cost to repair the infrastructure will be no less than 150 million dollars.
“Barbuda is barely habitable.
“At least 60 per cent of people are homeless, even where they are sheltering they are in damaged homes.”