World Bulletin / News Desk
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Saturday issued a stern warning to looters on the storm-ravaged Caribbean island of St Martin, saying police and troops would crack down on pillaging.
For the third day running since Hurricane Irma pummelled the island on Wednesday, Rutte held crisis talks with his cabinet to discuss the situation.
Some 70 percent of all homes have been left badly damaged on the island, which is shared between the Netherlands and France, Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said.
About 33,000 people live on the southern part which with other Caribbean islands like Aruba and Curacao are part of the kingdom of the Netherlands.
Rutte refused to say what specific orders hundreds of Dutch troops and police had been given to stop the looting.
But he admitted the looting had "not yet been brought under control," adding the "circumstances were complicated."
Some 230 Dutch troops are already on the island, and another 100 will arrive by Monday.
If necessary, another 150 will be deployed to the Caribbean, Rutte said.
Evacuations have begun though. Some 65 people, many of them dialysis patients and other emergency medical cases, have been already taken off the island, most heading for Curacao.
Some communications and power has been restored, and many of the main roads are now passable again.
Once Hurricane Jose has passed later Saturday, the Dutch will try to evacuate others including tourists desperate to flee the ravaged island, Rutte said.
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