The Latest: French leader to go to hurricane-hit St. Martin
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the French government’s handling of the hurricanes in the Caribbean (all times local):
French President Emmanuel Macron is heading to the hurricane-battered French Caribbean island of St. Martin on Tuesday as his government fends off criticism of its handling of the disaster.
Macron held another emergency meeting Sunday night to discuss the hurricanes. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said afterward that Macron will bring aid on his plane and that the “whole government is mobilized” to help the islanders.
Hurricane Irma left nine dead and flattened many homes on St. Martin and nearby St. Barts. Hurricane Jose then threatened the area but passed by farther away than expected on Sunday.
Collomb said the pillaging that hit St. Martin after Irma has stopped.
Macron’s government has defended its actions and has sent more than 1,000 troops, police and emergency workers to St. Martin and St. Barts in recent days.
The French government is defending its handling of hurricane preparations in the French Caribbean islands of St. Martin and St. Barts, after being criticized by opponents for not preparing enough and by locals who felt abandoned by authorities amid the devastation.
Government spokesman Christophe Castaner, speaking Sunday with Europe1-CNews-Les Echos, said he “perfectly (understood) the anger” of residents after Hurricane Irma tore through the islands, killing nine people, destroying houses and cutting off the water supply. Extra troops had to be sent to stop subsequent looting. Another four people were killed on St. Maarten, the Dutch side of St. Martin, the Dutch government reported Sunday.
But Castaner insisted President Emmanuel Macron’s government deployed robust emergency planning methods and sent plenty of equipment to the islands.He said officials had known of the “extremely high risk” days in advance and had mobilized military and health care personnel in nearby Guadeloupe.
Angela Charlton contributed from Paris.