IN PICTURES: Hurricane Irma leaves trail of destruction in French Caribbean

Hurricane Irma - one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record - ripped through the Caribbean on Wednesday leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

IN PICTURES: Hurricane Irma leaves trail of destruction in French Caribbean
Damage in Orient Bay. AFP.
Nine were killed by the storm on the French islands, while seven remain missing, France's Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said on Friday. 
The islands of St Martin, a pristine island resort which is divided between France and the Netherlands, and St Barts, also known as Saint Barthelemy, were hit. 

A 455-strong security contingent is on its way to St Martin and more will follow, Collomb said, adding that “the law and order problems should be resolved”.
The rare Category Five hurricane is now heading towards the United States, where up to a million people have been ordered to evacuate. 


Hotel Mercure on Saint Martin during the passage of Hurricane Irma. AFP.

Destroyed palm trees, outside Hotel Mercure after the storm. AFP

A man stands in his destroyed home in Orient Bay on Saint-Martin. AFP

Damage in Orient Bay. AFP

French Overseas Minister Annick Girardin (C) and President of the Saint-Martin French collectivity Daniel Gibbes (R) speak with residents. AFP.

Flooded houses in Gustavia in St Barts. AFP.


South west France on red alert for flooding

Five areas in south west France have been placed on a red weather alert for flooding as storms lash the region.

South west France on red alert for flooding
Storms are moving in to south west France over the Pyrenees. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Météo France has placed five départements in south west France – Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Garonne and Ariège – on a red weather alert for heavy rains and flooding.

Extremely heavy rainstorms have hit the area, with a band of storm clouds travelling along the Pyrenees, bringing the risk of avalanches in the mountains and flooding in lowland areas.

The neighbouring département of Pyrénées-Orientale is on orange alert, along with the principality of Andorra. In the north, Aisne is also on orange alert for heavy rain.

Heavy rain is expected to continue throughout Monday, gradually easing off towards the evening, although the flood alerts remain in place until Tuesday.