World Bulletin / News Desk
Speaking on France Info radio, Collomb said the death toll is likely to rise once rescue teams get access to damaged areas and finish their inspection of the Caribbean islands of St. Martin and Saint Barthelemy or St. Barts.
Irma -- packing 297 kilometers-per-hour (185 mile an hour) winds and gusts -- struck the northeast Caribbean with terrifying force Wednesday before bearing down on islands farther west.
Collomb later told a press conference the priority is to provide food and water to people affected by the hurricane and get the electricity back.
"The French airport was not destroyed, the Dutch yes," he added, speaking of St. Martin, which is divided between France and the Netherlands.
Some 40,000 people live on the French side of the island, and about the same number on the Dutch side.
A total of around 9,000 people live on St. Barts, and most were left without shelter.
French President Emmanuel Macron will visit the islands affected "as soon as possible", according to an Elysee statement.
French Overseas Territories Minister Annick Girardin arrived on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe on Wednesday evening to evaluate the situation.
Daniel Gibbs, chairman of a local council on St. Martin, said late Wednesday that the island was "95 percent destroyed. I am in shock."
U.S. National Hurricane Center forecasters warned on Wednesday that the storm, already one of the most powerful and destructive storms ever recorded, was "potentially catastrophic.”