Hurricane death toll climbs as Beryl nears Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Satellite imagery of Hurricane Beryl as it passed through the Caribbean on July 1. – File photo courtesy TT Met Office

Hurricane Beryl, a category 4 storm, was approaching Jamaica on the morning of July 3, with the death toll already at least seven as it leaves a trail of destruction across the eastern Caribbean.

A Reuters article published on July 3 said the hurricane flattened homes and devastated agriculture on smaller islands.

On July 2, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on state television there had been three deaths and four missing in Sucre state, with over 8,000 homes affected by torrential rains and at least 400 destroyed.

Grenada’s prime minister Dickon Mitchell described the situation in Carriacou and Petite Martinique as “Armageddon-like,” confirming three fatalities on July 2.

“There is no power. There is almost complete destruction of homes and buildings,” he said, noting impassable roads and destroyed fuel stations.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) described the hurricane as causing “immense destruction,” with 90 per cent of homes on Union Island severely damaged or destroyed.

On July 1, Gonsalves confirmed one death, and more fatalities were expected to be confirmed.

In Martinique, video footage shows flooded streets and locals clearing debris.

The hurricane is moving west-northwest at 35 k/ph, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

The hurricane centre has issued a hurricane watch for Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, and Mexico’s defence ministry has activated emergency response protocols, opening 120 shelters and deploying nearly 4,900 troops.

At 5 am Beryl was 300 km east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, with maximum sustained winds of 230 km per hour, according to the US Hurricane Center.

“Beryl is expected to bring life-threatening winds and storm surge to Jamaica on Wednesday and the Cayman Islands Wednesday night and Thursday,” it warned.

A hurricane warning is in effect for both countries.

Hurricane conditions were expected to reach Jamaica’s coast around midday, with tropical storm-strength winds starting in the late morning.

In Kingston, Reuters reported residents were urgently preparing for the storm, lining up at gas stations, stocking up on essential supplies and boarding up shops and houses.